Jan 28 2018

Turkish navy blocked Greek Defence Minister’s visit to contested islets

 

The Turkish Coast Guard on Sunday blocked Greek defence minister from approaching a pair of contested islets in the Aegean Sea, Turkey’s Interior Ministry said.

Coast guard officers warned the Greek boat carrying Panos Kammenos, who was heading to the Imia / Kardak islets to lay a wreath there, Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu Agency reported.

After the warning, the Greek boat left the disputed waters without further incident, it added.

Map of the Aegean Sea, locating the two uninhabited islets disputed by Greece and Turkey. - AFP
Map of the Aegean Sea, locating the two uninhabited islets disputed by Greece and Turkey. - AFP

A decades-long dispute between Turkey and Greece over the uninhabited Aegean islets brought the two countries to the brink of armed conflict in 1996 and led to renewed tensions this year, AA said.

The minister and the Greek air force's commander Nicholas Tsounis were onboard the naval vessel Nikiforos for the wreath-laying ceremony to remember three military personnel who died in a helicopter crash during the 1996 Imia crisis with Turkey, the Greek news outlet Greek Reporter said.

The ministry released a statement regarding the commemoration ceremony:

We are here today to pay our respects to the heroes of our navy who fell in faith and for the homeland in 1996, in Imia.

Panagiotis Vlahakos, Christodoulos Karathanasis, and Ektoras Gialopsos will stay in the heroes' pantheon.

Greek Minister for National Defence Panos Kammenos lays wreath for three military personnel who died in a helicopter crash in 1996, near Imia islets in the Aegean Sea, Jan. 28, 2018. Photo provided by Greek Ministry for National Defence
Greek Minister for National Defence Panos Kammenos lays wreath for three military personnel who died in a helicopter crash in 1996, near Imia islets in the Aegean Sea, Jan. 28, 2018. Photo provided by Greek Ministry for National Defence