Greek flag rais­ing angers Turkey

The Sault Star - - WORLD NEWS -

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey warned Greece on Mon­day to re­frain from “provo­ca­tions” af­ter a Greek flag was hoisted on a dis­puted, un­in­hab­ited islet in the Aegean Sea off the Turk­ish coast.

Prime Min­is­ter Bi­nali Yildirim told re­porters that the Turk­ish coast guards had re­moved the flag from the is­land off the coast of the Aegean re­sort of Didim.

Yildirim said the in­ci­dent was sim­i­lar to one in 1996 when the two NATO al­lies went to war over un­in­hab­ited islets — known as Imia in Greek and Kar­dak in Turk­ish — which both Turkey and Greece claim.

“Our advice to Greece would be to stay away from provo­ca­tions and ag­i­ta­tions,” Yildirim said adding that Turkey was “de­ter­mined to give the nec­es­sary re­sponse” to such acts.

De­spite two decades of ef­forts to im­prove re­la­tions, Greece and Turkey have seen a spike in ten­sions in re­cent weeks over dis­puted Aegean bound­aries as well as over oil-and-gas drilling rights off the di­vided is­land of Cyprus.

Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Cavu­soglu ac­cused Greece’s De­fence Min­is­ter Panos Kam­menos — the out­spo­ken leader of Greece’s na­tion­al­ist party — of rais­ing ten­sions in the Aegean Sea.

“His brat­ti­ness shouldn’t reach a level where it’ll dam­age re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries,” Cavu­soglu said.

Greek govern­ment spokesman Dim­itris Tzan­nakopou­los said the govern­ment had no knowl­edge of the in­ci­dent and de­scribed the re­marks by Yildirim as “provoca­tive and rep­re­hen­si­ble.”

“I think Mr. Yildirim should be more care­ful,” Tzan­nakopou­los said. “We call on Turkey to re­turn to a path of re­spect for in­ter­na­tional law ... They should take an ini­tia­tive to de-es­ca­late the ten­sion.”

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