With tensions mounting in the region after Athens’ controversial new pact with Egypt, Greek defense sources on Thursday announced joint military drills in the Eastern Mediterranean along with France, another country that has sought to hem in Turkey’s maritime territory.

The exercise, including two French Rafale fighter jets, was held off the island of Crete after France announced Wednesday that it would beef up its military presence in the region.

France’s decision came after President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis held a phone call to discuss the latest situation in the region.

"I have decided to temporarily reinforce the French military presence in the eastern Mediterranean in the coming days, in cooperation with European partners, including Greece," Macron wrote on Twitter.

France said Thursday that it was sending two Rafale fighter jets and the naval frigate Lafayette to the Eastern Mediterranean.

The drills follow Turkey resuming energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean on Monday, just after the signing of the Greek-Egyptian maritime pact, which Turkey has called illegal.

The pact was signed only a day after Turkey had postponed its activities in the region as a sign of goodwill.

But after declaring the Athens-Cairo pact “null and void,” Turkey authorized its Oruc Reis drill ship to continue its activities in an area within Turkey’s continental shelf.

The ship will continue exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean along with the Cengiz Han and Ataman ships until Aug. 23.

Turkey has consistently opposed efforts for Greece to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coast on the Aegean and Mediterranean.

Turkey will respond to any harassment in Mediterranean Sea: Turkish Foreign Minister

Turkey will respond to any Greek harassment of its energy exploration ship Oruc Reis in the Eastern Mediterranean, the country’s foreign minister warned Friday. 

“Greece should avoid maximalist policies in the region,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint press conference with his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis in Bern.

The warning came on the same day as an EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting by video link at Athens’ request on the Eastern Mediterranean issue.

On France declaring it would boost its military presence in the region, Cavusoglu said: “France should avoid any steps that would raise tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

France has supported Greece’s efforts to box in Ankara’s maritime territory based on small Greek islands close to Turkish shores, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.

"We are always in favor of solving all problems through dialogue and peaceful resolutions," said Cavusoglu, reiterating Ankara’s push for a win-win solution based on fair sharing.

Cavusoglu also urged the EU to support dialogue and diplomacy.

This Monday Turkey announced that its drill ship Oruc Reis would begin conducting fresh energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey’s decision came following a controversial delimitation deal signed between Greece and Egypt, spurning Turkey’s earlier goodwill gesture to postpone energy exploration in the region.

The ship will continue its work in the Eastern Mediterranean along with the ships Cengiz Han and Ataman until Aug. 23.

On the controversial Israel-UAE deal for normalized ties announced Thursday, Cavusoglu accused the UAE of sowing instability in the region and “betraying the Palestinian cause for its own interests.”

Under the deal, Israel and the UAE agreed to normalize relations, with Israel in return pledging only to "temporarily" postpone its West Bank annexation plan.