France, Greece, Italy and Cyprus will deploy forces to the Mediterranean following the ongoing maritime dispute between Athens and Ankara. Relations between Greece and Turkey have become volatile following the discovery of large gas reserves in the disputed waters.
Tensions erupted this month, after Ankara sent its Oruc Reis survey vessel near to the location of hydrocarbon resources – a move Athens branded illegal.
According to a Greek military source, two vessels from Athens and Ankara collided during the heated dispute.
The Greek Ministry of Defence confirmed news of the allied EU mission known as the Quadripartite Cooperation Initiative earlier this afternoon.
In a statement, the Ministry said: “Cyprus, Greece, France and Italy have agreed to deploy a joint presence in the eastern Mediterranean within the framework of the Quadripartite Cooperation Initiative.”
The military exercise will take place between August 26 and 28 in southern Crete and Cyprus.
In the wake of the marine dispute, Greece has announced plans to extend the western limit of its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to 12 miles – an increase from the current six mile limit.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said a bill on the matter would be submitted to parliament in the coming days.
The proposal to extend the boundary has promoted a furious response from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
Mr Erdogan has vowed to do whatever is necessary to obtain its rights in the Black Sea, Aegean and Mediterranean.
Mr Erdogan said: “We will not compromise over what belongs to us.
“We are determined to do whatever is necessary.”
Ms Parly said: “The eastern Mediterranean is turning into an area of tension.
“Respect for international law must be the rule and not the exception.”
The French politician added the region “should not be a playground for the ambitions of some”.
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)
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