Jan 06 2018

Turkish ships surround islet on day of Greek PM visit - report

Turkish coast-guard vessels surrounded a disputed islet five miles (8 kilometers) from the resort town of Bodrum on Saturday, despite Greek warnings to disperse, Hürriyet newspaper said.

The manouvers coincided with a visit by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to the nearby island of Kalymnos, and were designed to prevent him from making an impromptu visit to the islet of Kardak, Hürriyet reported.

A Turkish frigate and a torpedo boat were on alert and stationed nearby, the newspaper said.

The Greek military contacted the Turkish coast guard ships by radio demanding that they leave the area. The ships refused saying Kardak was Turkish territory, Hürriyet said.

Tensions between Greece and Turkey have risen since a visit to Athens by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who called for a revision to the Treaty of Launsanne which sets out the current borders between Greece and Turkey.

Tsipras is visiting Kalymnos and the island of Farmakonisi following several days of mounting tensions in the Aegean.

Tsipras was to be accompanied by Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, leader of junior coalition partner Independent Greeks, and Shipping Minister Panagiotis Kouroublis. The visit will include a blessing of the waters ceremony on the Epiphany public holiday.