Turkey removes Greek flag planted on Aegean islet

Turkey has removed a Greek flag planted on a rocky islet in the Aegean Sea, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Monday and urged Athens to refrain from resorting to what he called “provocative moves” that could heighten between tension between the two neighbours and NATO allies.

“There was an attempt to plant a Greek flag on an uninhabited rocky islet across from (the Turkish resort of) Didim. Our coast guard removed the flag from there,” independent news website 24TV quoted the Turkish prime minister as saying. 

Yıldırım did not give details about when the incident occurred or when the flag was removed.

“Our advice to Greece is to stay within the boundaries of good neighbourly relations and to avoid provocations that would escalate tension,’’ he said.

Tensions between Turkey and Greece have risen in recent months over territorial disputes in the Aegean Sea, Greece’s refusal to hand back eight Turkish military personnel who fled there after the failed 2016 coup and Turkey’s detention of two Greek soldiers who strayed over the border.

“No one should think that we would give any concessions over our sovereign rights. We are determined to give necessary responses against de facto interventions,” Yıldırım said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke to tensions between Greece and Turkey, addressing Greece by saying ‘’Don’t make any dangerous moves; our soldiers might cause an accident,’' while answering questions from the press following his meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday.

Meanwhile Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said on Monday that there was no evidence of "violation of Greek territory" after claims by the Turkish prime minister that a Greek flag had been taken down from an Aegean islet, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported.