Amidst heightened concerns over Turkey’s attempt to escalate Aegean tensions by ramming a Hellenic Coast Guard ship, Athens and Ankara are offering very different accounts of the events of recent days.
Most notable in the emerging blame game was the Turkish foreign ministry’s denial that Greece had filed a demarche with its general secretary and its assertion that it was Ankara that complained to Athens over the Greek presence near the Imia islets.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ office said that the Greek PM “sternly” noted to his Turkish counterpart that incidents such as Monday’s ramming of a Greek ship directly undermine Greek-Turkish and EU-Turkey relations.
Tsipras is also said to have stressed to Yildirim the need to “immediately cease” the increasing, provocative Turkish violations of the territorial waters and the airspace of the Greek islands in the Aegean.
Ankara depicts itself as injured party
In remarks quoted by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu wire service, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told journalists of his conversation with PM Alexis Tsipras, “We explicitly expressed to him [Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras] that staying away from tensions will be better, with regards to relations between the two countries.”
The same report quoted Yildirim as saying that he and Tsipras had agreed to ease tensions and keep their communication line open via political and diplomatic channels.
Yildirim essentially blamed the Greek side for Monday’s near deadly ramming of a Greek Coast Guard ship, claiming it had no right to approach the Imia islets, which under international law and treaties belong to Greece, but which Turkey claims as its own.
«Recently, there have been some violations during this tension, which started with Kardak rocks, to which we gave a response,» Anadolu quoted Yildirim as saying.
«Tension or risk of clash cannot be one-sided. If there is a violation, there is a violation made by the other party as well. Therefore, it is not only Turkey that should be careful in avoiding such violations; at the same time, actors in the field from Greece should be more careful and act in accordance with the law and stay away from disputed areas,» he added.