Macron to discuss east Med tensions at southern EU summit on Thursday

President Emmanuel Macron is to raise tensions with Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean at an informal summit of southern EU countries on Thursday, sources in the Elysee Palace said.

Leaders of Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain and Portugal will all join Macron for the meeting in Porticcio, on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica.

 Matter of “European sovereignty”

Elysee sources repeated Macron’s insistence that the tensions, stoked by Turkish gas exploration activities in disputed waters, are a matter of “European sovereignty.”

At the same time, the sources said, the French president would like to see a resumption of German mediation on the issue between Greece and Turkey.

Macron has taken an assertive stance against Turkey’s activities in the eastern Mediterranean, as well as Ankara’s military support for the internationally-recognized government in war-torn Libya.

Turkey’s gas drilling as illegal

The European Union has slammed Turkey’s gas drilling as illegal, holding that it is taking place in waters that are part of Greece’s exclusive economic zone.

The topic is due to be discussed at an EU summit on September 24-25, and the bloc has threatened that it could impose sanctions on Ankara.

France, Cyprus, Greece and Italy held joint naval exercises off Cyprus last month. Turkey soon afterwards said it had held joint manoeuvres in the Mediterranean with a US destroyer.

The conflict in Libya and migration across the Mediterranean would also be on Thursday’s agenda, the sources in the Elysee said.