After threats from Turkey, UAE warplanes arrive at Greece’s Crete Island

Athens: Tensions between NATO members Turkey and Greece over energy reserves in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea have sharply escalated to military activity in the regions. President Erdogan threatened that ‘Turkey will make no concessions when it comes to protecting our sovereign rights in the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and the Aegean Sea.’ At the same time, Turkey also announced conducting live-fire drills in the Mediterranean Sea. Although indirect, it is obvious that the threat was aimed at Greece. Few hours after the threat, the European nations of Greece, France, Italy and Cyprus, which are NATO members, convened exercises in the Mediterranean Sea. On the other hand, fighter jets of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have arrived at Crete Island for new drills.  

A new claim states that 128 billion cubic meters of natural gas deposits have been discovered in the stretch of seawater between the Crete Island and Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea. Staking claim over the reserves, Turkey had sent its research ship to the region two weeks ago. Greece and France had objected to Turkey’s aggressiveness. Also, France deployed the LaFayette frigate and the Rafale fighters as a warning to Turkey. However, snubbing warnings from France and other European nations, Turkey announced to continue with its activities in the Mediterranean as also other marine regions. President Erdogan threatened that ‘Turkey will never stake claim over territories, sovereignty and interests of other nations. Nevertheless, we will also not withdraw when it comes to our sovereign rights. Turkey will make no concessions while protecting its rights in the Aegean and the Black Sea regions.’  

At this time, Erdogan made a reference to the victory of the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century over the Byzantine Empire. He even threatened that the Turkish adversaries must not commit such mistakes that would cause their destruction. The threat is believed to be for Greece, as also France and Cyprus which are supporting it. Right after, the Turkish Foreign Minister and Defence Minister issued threats to the nation’s enemies as well. Stating that it was capable of safeguarding its interests, Turkey announced that it was holding live-fire drills in the Mediterranean Sea on the 1st and 2nd of September. The exercise is the third one Turkey has held in the marine region in the last month alone.  

In the next few hours, Turkey sent its warships to the Mediterranean Sea and conducted the exercise. The Turkish drills are said to be a warning to Greece and its allies. In contrast, Greece, France, Italy and Cyprus have begun the three-day naval exercise with their warships in the region hours after the announcement. The US had participated in maritime drills with both rival nations, Turkey and Greece. European analysts believe the rival exercises of two NATO member nations make evident the divide within the military bloc. Furthermore, US media is warning that the latest military activities of the NATO members in the Mediterranean Sea may give rise to new problems in the region.   

In the wake of Turkey’s threat, F-16 fighter jets of United Arab Emirates (UAE) landed at the Greek island of Crete. UAE announced that the jets had arrived at the Crete Island to participate in drills with Greece. The fighters are to remain deployed at a Saudi airbase as per talks between army chiefs of both nations. UAE is also said to have sent a destroyer to Crete Island following the F-16s. In the past few months, the differences between Turkey and UAE were quite apparent. Both nations are standing on opposite sides in Libyan and Syrian war. Only a few days ago, Turkey had criticised the deal between Israel and UAE. The deployment of UAE fighters at Crete Island is being looked upon against this background.

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