Great Britain

'Macron's seeking WAR!' Turkey condemns 'colonial' France as tensions with Greece erupt

Meanwhile, Turkish state-backed media have accused France of "seeking war" as the situation threatened to reach boiling point. During his astonishing rant, Mr Erdogan also dismissed Mr Macron's recent visit to Beirut following the massive explosion which rocked the city as a "show" - and claimed he was "chasing photos".

What Macron and company want is to restore colonialism in Lebanon

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Speaking in the Turkish capital of Ankara, Mr Erdogan said: "What Macron and company want is to restore colonialism in Lebanon."

In a reference to the French President's trip after the blast which killed 171 people and injured more than 6,500, he added: "We are not chasing after photos or performing in front of the cameras."

Concerns are mounting in the region after Turkish seismic research vessel Oruc Reis was sent to a disputed area of the Mediterranean close to the Greek island of Megitsi, as part of a search for natural oil and gas resources which both countries claim rights to.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan Emmanuel Macron

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed Emmanuel Macron wants a return to colonialism (Image: GETTY)

Beirut explosion Lebanon

A picture taken from a nearby building shows the aftermath of the explosion in Beirut (Image: GETTY)

Addressing the issue last night, Mr Erdogan tweeted: "That an island, whose total area is 10 square kilometers, would be entitled to 40,000 square kilometers of maritime jurisdiction is both laughable and baseless under international law."

France yesterday confirmed it was taking part in joint military exercises with Greek forces in the eastern Mediterranean, having deployed two fighter jets and a warship.

In a series of tweets yesterday, Mr Macron said: "The situation in the eastern Mediterranean is worrying.

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Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel Macron pictured in Beirut (Image: GETTY)

"Turkey’s unilateral decisions on oil exploration are causing tensions.

"These must end in order to allow a peaceful dialogue between neighboring countries and allies within NATO.

Mr Macron added: "I have decided to temporarily strengthen the French military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean in the coming days, in cooperation with European partners including Greece."

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Kyriakis Mitsotakis

Kyriakis Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece (Image: GETTY)

Orus Reis

Turkish research vessel the Orus Reis (Image: GETTY)

Media outlets within Turkey reacted angrily, variously accusing France of "seeking war" and of "overstepping the line".

Pictures earlier this week showed the Oruc Reis being escorted by a flotilla of Turkish Navy vessels, prompting Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to warn: "The risk of an accident lurks when so many troops are concentrated in a limited area.

"And the responsibility lies with the one who causes these conditions.

Cyprus Dhekelia

The UK has military bases on Cyprus (Image: GETTY)

"We will never be the first to sharpen things.

"But no challenge will go unanswered."

Turkey and Greece have a long history of antagonistic relations.

Megitsi Meis

Megitsi - known to Turkey as Meis - is close to the Turkish mainland (Image: Erdogan Dijital Medya)

In 1974, Turkey invaded northern Cyprus, evicting 200,000 Greek Cypriots.

The country has remained divided ever since.

The UK maintains an important strategic foothold in the region, via its military bases at the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, which is a British overseas territory on the island of Cyprus.

(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)

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