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Turkey, Greece Tensions Set to Grow in Mediterranean

In a move that is sure to be noticed, Turkey announced on Sunday it was extending its gas-finding mission in the Eastern Mediterranean until August 27. The seismic survey, a first stage in hydrocarbon exploration, is conducted by the Oruc Reis vessel and was initiated by Ankara two weeks ago, much to the dismay of neighboring Greece who lays claim to the disputed waters. Over the weekend, United Arab Emirate warplanes arrived on the scene to hold military drills with Greek vessels. Last week, the French navy came to Greece’s aid as well, as President Emmanuel Macron sent several warships to conduct maneuvers with Greek vessels near the survey site, in a show of force meant to intimidate the Turkish ships that Greece alleged had acted aggressively. France has opposed alleged Turkish hostilities in Libya and in Syria, among other places. Also in Greece’s corner are Egypt and Israel, who have other bones to pick with Ankara on issues across the region and who both issued statements of support for Athens. The Mediterranean dispute centers mainly on the continental shelves of the two neighboring countries, as Turkey postulates that the hundreds of Greek islands in the area hand its government an unfair territorial claim, while Greece rejects what it sees as attempted Turkish expansionism.