Turkey accused the Greek air force on Tuesday of having “harassed” a Turkish vessel carrying out “technical and scientific research” in international waters in the Aegean Sea. Athens has denied the charges.
According to the Turkish Ministry of Defense, four Greek F-16 type fighters “harassed” the TCG Cesme ship and one of the devices, “which flew at an altitude of 1,000 meters”, released scrambling chaff “at two nautical miles from the Turkish ship. The incident occurred near the Greek island of Lemnos, the ministry said in a statement.
“This is unfortunately one of the frequent acts of harassment by our Greek neighbors,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters. He said, without further clarification, that an “adequate response” was brought to the action alleged against the Greek apparatuses.
Denial of Athens
In Athens, the Greek Ministry of Defense denied such “harassment” of the Turkish ship by Greek hunters. “No Greek fighter aircraft approached the Turkish ship Cesme,” the Greek ministry said. According to him, the Greek air force was conducting an exercise on Tuesday, but it is taking place “far” from the area in which the Turkish ship operates.
Turkey and Greece resumed a dialogue at the end of January, interrupted five years ago, after months of tension between these two NATO member countries. Ignoring the warnings from Europe, Ankara has organized several gas exploration missions in Greek waters in recent months, causing a diplomatic crisis of unprecedented magnitude since 1996, when the two countries came close to war.
Despite the resumption of dialogue, disputes and mistrust remain lively between the two countries. The mission of the Turkish ship in this area was the subject last week of a message from Ankara on the maritime warning system NAVTEX, prompting a protest from Athens which sees it as a potential “source of tension”.
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