Turkey says Greek coast guard fired shots at a Turkish cargo ship in international waters in the Aegean, with Athens saying the ship was “moving suspiciously” in Greek waters while others are calling for calm as rhetoric escalates again.
Athens says the captain of the Comoros-flagged Anatolian cargo ship refused inspection when Greek coast guard gave the order and fired warning shots just off the Greek island of Lesbos, an area known as a frequent migrant route from east to west.
The crew on board included six Egyptians, four Somalis, five Azerbaijanis and three Turkish nationals, with the Turkish Coast Guard Command saying in a statement the ship was attacked while sailing in international waters.
Ankara says the incident took place on Saturday just off the Turkish island of Bozcaada, adding two Greek vessels engaged in “harassment fire” and were gone before Turkish coast guard rushed to the location.
The two NATO allies are embroiled in long disputes over airspace violations in the area.
'There is no one abroad who believes that the Greek islands are a threat to Turkey' Mitsotakis said, but Ankara begs to differ with Erdogan last week accusing Greece of occupying demilitarized islands
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said Greece used Russian-made S300 defense systems to target Turkish planes, warning Greece would pay a “heavy price” if it continued to harass Turkish fighter jets over the Aegean.
But Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says Turkey is the one who is raising tensions and “portraying Greece as an alleged aggressor.”
“There is no one abroad who believes that the Greek islands are a threat to Turkey,” Mitsotakis said.
But Ankara begs to differ with Erdogan last week accusing Greece of occupying demilitarized islands in the Aegean Sea and saying Turkey was prepared to “do what is necessary” when the time comes.
The Greek Premier shared with allies his belief that it was Turkish statements that were the source of “constant provocation.”
“I find the recent statements of the Turkish president unacceptable,” said Mitsotakis, without ruling out the possibility to meet with Erdogan.
But after a fiery speech in a joint session of the US congress, when the Greek leader attacked Turkey, Erdogan said he would not meet with Mitsotakis.
But the Greek prime minister said he would try to keep communication channels open, saying this week that he “cannot imagine a Greek-Turkish conflict with Turkey attacking.”
“To put it in his own language, bullying tactics yiok (no) with Greece,” Mitsotakis said.
But Turkey insists Greece is the one trying to provoke.
Tukrish media said a prosecutor in the country has ordered an investigation into the incident, with Ankara also demanding that Greek authorities probe the matter and give an explanation.
Video footage from a mobile phone which was later released by the Turkish coastguard showed what appeared to be a bullet hole in a window and in the ceiling of the cargo ship’s bridge.
Ankara says about a dozen shots were fired “in disregard of the rules of international law” but clarified there were no causalities on board.