France to expand Mediterranean military presence over Turkish explorations

France has called on Turkey to halt oil and gas explorations in the eastern Mediterranean adding that the country decided to increase its military presence in the region.

French President Emmanuel Macron together with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis voiced their concern calling the explorations “unilateral,” Reuters quoted Macron's office as saying on Wednesday.

The French President, in his tweet messages, also added that the Turkish oil explorations need to be ceased “in order to allow a peaceful dialogue” between the two NATO allies.

France will “temporarily reinforce” its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean, the statement added, to “monitor the situation in the region and mark its determination to uphold international law.”

Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, vehemently disagree over overlapping claims to hydrocarbon resources in the region based on conflicting views on the extent of their continental shelves in waters dotted with mostly Greek islands.

Tensions rose when Ankara sent an exploration vessel on Monday to a disputed area of the Mediterranean, accompanied by warships, days after Greece signed a maritime deal with Egypt. 

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the country wanted to build bridges with its neighbours. He said he hoped talks with Turkey could restart, but said “dialogue becomes irrelevant in a climate of tension”.