France says law must be respected in eastern Med as exercises begin

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A rafale fighter jet takes off from the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle sailing in the Mediterranean sea on September 29, 2016 in the Mediterranean sea as part of the Operation Arromanches III. PHOTO:   Eric Feferberg/AFP/File

PARIS  —  France on Wednesday said military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean along with Greece, Italy and Cyprus were aimed at promoting respect of international law as tensions soar with Turkey in the region.

Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Twitter that three Rafale jets, a frigate and a helicopter would take part for France in the exercises which get underway on Wednesday.

“The eastern Mediterranean is turning into an area of tension. Respect for international law must be the rule and not the exception,” she said.

“Our message is simple: priority for dialogue, cooperation and diplomacy so that the eastern Mediterranean becomes an area of stability and respect for international law.”

In an apparent jibe at Turkey, she added: “It should not be a playground for the ambitions of some — it’s a shared asset.”

The discovery of major gas deposits in waters surrounding Crete and Cyprus has triggered a scramble for energy riches and revived old rivalries between NATO members Greece and Turkey.

Tensions are already high between France and Turkey over the conflict in Libya where both Paris and Ankara have accused the other of interference.–AFP


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