Turkey accuses Greece of deploying ships to demilitarised Aegean island

Turkey’s Ministry of Defence on Monday accused Greece of deploying naval vessels to demilitarised islands in the Aegean close to Turkish shores. 

Defence ministry spokeswoman Major Pinar Kara told a news conference that Greek “assault boats” were deployed to Kastellorizo, an island about 2 km away from Turkey, TRT World reported.

"Despite all of Turkey's positive and constructive efforts, Greece continues its provocative and unlawful actions," Kara said in a news conference.

Turkey would continue to pursue negotiations with Greece to resolve their differences, Kara said, but Greece still has yet to respond to a Turkish invitation to another meeting between their two sides. 

Turkey and Greece’s dispute in the eastern Mediterranean Sea has worsened in recent years. Ankara has made sweeping legal claims to the waters in the region which it says it is being excluded from by other littoral states. Athens for its part rejects the Turkish claims and has deepened its partnerships with neighbours including Cyprus, Egypt and Israel as a result.

Kastellorizo has been a particular sticking point. The island is geographically closer to Turkey than it is to mainland Greece, and under the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty that saw the Dodcanese Islands fall under Greek control they have to remain demilitarised.

Turkish and Greek officials met in February for the first round of talks over their disputes. Greece’s representatives at the time made clear that they did not see the meeting as negotiations at that point in time.