Turkey suddenly announced the aggravation of relations with Greece — allegedly the air force of this country attacked a Turkish scientific vessel in the Aegean Sea.
Athens, however, suddenly announced that the Greek aviation was not in the area at all, and made counter-accusations: they say, the Turkish ship sailed into the Greek water area.
It should be noted that the situation between the two countries has remained tense for several decades, and has recently worsened due to the exploration of a rich gas field in the Mediterranean.
This is further complicated by the fact that both Greece and Turkey are NATO members.
Citing sources in the Ministry of Defense, the Turkish agency Anadolu said that four F-16 fighters of the Greek Air Force flew 1,000 meters above the research vessel Cesme, which was carrying out hydrographic work in international waters of the northern Aegean Sea.
At the same time, one of the planes allegedly dropped a signal flare 4 nautical miles (7.4 km) from the vessel.
Later, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar clarified that the incident took place on February 22. According to him, such behavior is inappropriate and does not correspond to “good neighborly relations.”
“We have rules, within the framework of which the necessary answer was given,” added the head of the Defense Ministry, accusing Greece of violating international law.
The ministry also clarified that in connection with the incident, Turkey raised its fighters to intercept.
Position of Greece
In Greece, this information is denied and the Turkish side is accused of disinformation. Referring to its sources in the Ministry of Defense, the Ekathimerini edition writes that at the present time the Greek aviation is not operating in the area of the Cesme location, and the next military exercises are taking place several miles from the ship.
Also in Athens, they deny that Greek planes flew over the research vessel and that there was no response from Turkish fighters.
At the same time, the Greeks called the Cesme hydrographic survey in the Eastern Mediterranean illegal. As evidence, a map was published showing the Cesme fairway in the water area of the Greek island of Lemnos.
What is this ship?
Turkey sent Cesme to the north of the Aegean last week. Greece immediately protested this, although it admitted that the declared zone is in international waters.
Ankara assures that the research is purely hydrographic and is of exclusively scientific and technical interest — the Cesme crew is studying seismological activity in the area in which it is located.
In this regard, the Turks claim that they do not violate any bilateral or international treaties, since they do not conduct research on the seabed. In addition, the Greeks previously carried out similar activities.
Recall that in December, the EU agreed on sanctions against Turkey in connection with drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The rhetoric of Turkish President Recep Erdogan makes it clear that he does not intend to retreat — the leader expressed his country’s readiness “to take what is due to it in the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Seas.”