Turkey will hold live-firing exercises in a disputed part of the eastern Mediterranean, its navy said on Thursday, August 27. The drill will take place on September 1 and 2.
Greece and Turkey both lay claim to areas that may contain important hydrocarbon deposits. Turkey has unilaterally ignored the sea boundaries of the Republic of Cyprus.
The announcement is sure to stoke tensions with Greece and its EU allies, who all claim that Turkey is acting outside International law.
France indicated on Wednesday that it will join naval exercises with Greece, Italy and Cyprus, also planned for next week. Three weeks ago France sent two ships to the area, both of which continued on to Beirut as part of an aid effort following the devastating explosion in the port of the Lebanese capital.
Turkey believes it has the upper hand in long-simmering disputes with Greece and the rest of the EU due to its ability to turn on and off a flow of migrants and refugees into the European Union.
However, a large scale naval stand-off risks blowing up into a major international incident.
Turkey has a formidable navy, but no allies in the Mediterranean stand-off. If the contest for control of the oil-rich waters does go beyond the flexing of muscles, the extent to which France, Italy and others will stand by Greece, and Cyprus, will be the decisive factor.