Ten­sions spike in Aegean Sea

Athens to is­sue de­marche after Turk­ish boat fires live am­mu­ni­tion dur­ing ex­er­cises off Greek is­land

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Ten­sion be­tween Greece and Turkey es­ca­lated fur­ther yes­ter­day after a Turk­ish coastal pa­trol boat fired live am­mu­ni­tion dur­ing a mil­i­tary ex­er­cise in Greek ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters in the east­ern Aegean Sea.

Speak­ing to Kathimerini news­pa­per on con­di­tion of anonymity, a Greek diplo­matic source de­scribed the in­ci­dent in the area around the east­ern Aegean is­land of Far­makon­isi, as “a grave vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional law.”

“Turkey’s un­ac­cept­able act raises se­ri­ous con­cerns about the po­ten­tial con­se­quences of its be­hav­ior on the sta­bil­ity of the wider re­gion,” the same source said.

Greek de­fense of­fi­cials were re­port­edly prepar­ing to lodge a de­marche with Ankara and brief al­lies and in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions on the in­ci­dent.

Ac­cord­ing to the De­fense Min­istry, Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties is­sued a nav­i­ga­tional telex, or Nav­tex, the day be­fore in­form­ing of a mil­i­tary ex­er­cise with live am­mu­ni­tion within Greek ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters, east of Far­makon­isi, on Fri­day [yes­ter­day] morn­ing be­tween 7 and 9 a.m.

The Greek De­fense Min­istry re- sponded by is­su­ing a Nav­tex turn­ing down the Turk­ish no­ti­fi­ca­tion, say­ing it cov­ered Greek ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters.

Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties have pre­vi­ously is­sued sim­i­lar no­ti­fi­ca­tions without ex­e­cut­ing them.

The Greek gun­boat Nik­i­foros was sent to the area to mon­i­tor the Turk­ish Ku­sadasi ves­sel, which fired a vol­ley of shots from small cal­iber (up to 40mm) guns be­tween 7.40 and 7.55 a.m., un­til it left the area just be­fore 8 a.m.

Greek De­fense Min­is­ter Panos Kam­menos re­port­edly mon­i­tored de­vel­op­ments from Munich where he is at­tend­ing an an­nual in­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity Con­fer­ence. Kam­menos re­port­edly briefed Greece’s al­lies and part­ners over the in­ci­dent. Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu also at­tended the an­nual gath­er­ing – an in­for­mal plat­form for al­lies and ad­ver­saries to meet in close quar­ters.

Yes­ter­day’s in­ci­dent oc­curred in the wake of re­peated Turk­ish vi­o­la­tions of Greek air space and in­creased ten­sions be­tween Athens and Ankara, which were fur­ther fu­eled last month when Greece’s high­est court blocked the ex­tra­di­tion of eight Turk­ish of­fi­cers to Turkey for their al­leged in­volve­ment in July’s failed coup.

Re­act­ing to the de­vel­op­ment yes­ter­day, Greece’s con­ser­va­tive op­po­si­tion re­quested a meet­ing of the coun­try’s Na­tional Coun­cil of For­eign Pol­icy.

“We are deeply con­cerned to wit­ness Turkey’s in­sis­tence on pro­vok­ing [Athens] and main­tain­ing a cli­mate of ten­sion in the Aegean,” New Democ­racy shadow for­eign min­is­ter Gior­gos Koumout­sakos said in a letter to For­eign Min­is­ter Nikos Kotzias.

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