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Mitsotakis, Macron Talk Tourism, Turkish Provocations Over Seas

Αssociated Press

FILE- French President Emmanuel Macron, right, welcome Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis before their talks Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020 in Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

ATHENS -- Greek Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis and French President Emmanuel Macron, in a series of contacts and a phone call, discussed relations between the countries, tourism in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s still going on and Turkish aggression.

The talk was a preparation for a European Union meeting on July 17-18 and focused on Turkey’s plans to drill for energy off Crete and claiming Greek waters near islands and part of the Continental Shelf under a maritime deal with Libya dividing the waters.

Their call came after Macron tore into Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for sending military aid to a United Nations-recognized government in Libya with whom he made the deal, as Greece and some other countries face rebels in another part of that country.

Macron wants the EU, which has been soft on Turkey and Erdogan, to get tougher but there’s been no political will go confront him, the bloc’s leaders fearful he will unleash more refugees and migrants on the bloc through Greece.

Turkey is holding some 5.5 million refugees and migrants who went there fleeing war and strife in their homelands, especially Afghanistan and Syria’s civil war, and is supposed to contain them under a 2016 swap deal with the EU.

That has been essentially-suspended with Turkey continuing to let human traffickers flood Greek islands and Erdogan trying to get some across Greece’s land border, upset that the bloc hasn’t sent him 3 billion euros ($3.37 billion) held back from the deal for now.

Mitsotakis earlier told members of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) there’s still enough in the till to get Greece through a difficult year although tourism could plummet as much as 70-75 percent for the year.