Greece, EU allies stage war games as Turkey dispute escalates

Greece, EU allies stage war games as Turkey dispute escalates

"No one can have an interest in that, and certainly not in a military confrontation between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners and neighbours".

Greece and Turkey say they are ready for talks to settle rival claims to an energy-rich section of the Mediterranean, but the hostility was clear when the foreign ministers of both countries called for dialogue Tuesday. It should not allow itself to be egged on by other countries and put itself into risk.

Greece was able to secure the support of France - which became the EU's biggest military power after Britain formally left the bloc - in three days of war games starting on Wednesday that also include Italy and Cyprus.

Both Athens and Ankara say they would prefer to talk out their problems but are ready to defend their interests with force.

"We are open to talks without preconditions", Cavusoglu said in a press conference with Maas in Ankara.

Turkey - the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean - has sent out drillships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have rights in the region.

However, he said, "there cannot be dialogue under threats, there cannot be dialogue under provocations and ultimately dialogue cannot be considered, not only for Greece but for any state, when its sovereign rights and sovereignty are being violated".

Ankara warns Athens not to raise eastern Mediterranean tensions or it'll not hesitate to do "what is necessary", though it said it wants to solve differences through talks and expects European Union to act as "honest" mediator. "The other - equally important - message is that what we now need absolutely and immediately are signals of de-escalation and a readiness for dialogue". "We are witnessing the attempt to implement expansionist aims against neighbors and allies".

That pact - expected to be ratified by the Greek parliament later Wednesday - was agreed after Turkey delayed the Oruc Reis mission to give diplomacy another chance in July. Fiona Mullen, director of the Nicosia-based research consultancy Sapienta Economics, said despite the recent naval drills, Turkey-Greece tensions will likely subside in the near future.

And the same USA destroyer that took part in the exercises with Turkey had staged air and sea manoeuvres with the Greek navy south of Crete on Monday.

Greece, France and Cyprus have called for sanctions against Ankara over its actions in the eastern Mediterranean. Ankara has refused to back down and extended its notification about the research vessel's operations to run through August 27.

"With our Cypriot, Greek and Italian partners we are beginning today a military exercise with air and sea assets", Parly tweeted on Wednesday.

"In the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Sea, Turkey will get what is rightfully ours", Erdogan said in the eastern province of Mus on the anniversary of the 1071 Battle of Malazgirt where pre-Ottoman tribes defeated the Byzantines.

Maas plans to meet Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis before flying to Ankara for talks with his Turkish counterpart. Earlier this month, Athens said a Greek frigate and a Turkish frigate escorting the Oruc Reis collided. Greek media reported the Turkish frigate had suffered minor damage above the waterline.

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