Captain of Turkish boat shot at by Russian warship says no shots heard
ÇANAKKALE – Doğan News Agency
DHA PhotoThe captain of a Turkish vessel that received warning shots from a Russian warship while in the Aegean Sea has said the crew did not heard any warning shots while passing the warship. He also claimed the fishing vessel had been one mile away from the warship allegedly at stand still when the fishing vessel maneuvered away.
Muzaffer Geçici, whose boat “Geçiciler 1,” was subject to warning shots in the Aegean Sea early Dec. 13, said he and his crew had not been aware that shots had been fired at them. The captain has handed over footage from the boat’s surveillance cameras to the Turkish Coast Guard to support his claims.
The same day of the incident, the Russian Defense Ministry said Russian destroyer “Smetlivy” had been forced to fire warning shots at a Turkish vessel in order to avoid collision and that the Turkish vessel had failed to respond to earlier warnings. The defense ministry statement also said the Turkish vessel had immediately changed course after the shots were fired, passing within just over 500 meters of the warship.
According to Geçici, the crew had been fishing between the two Turkish islands of Gökçeada and Bozcaada when they passed by an anchored warship approximately one nautical mile away. He alleged they did not know the warship was of Russian origin and thought it was a NATO ship.
“We did not hear any harassment or warning shots fired toward us,” said Geçici, adding that the events had been recorded on the boat’s surveillance cameras, which he had given to Coast Guard officials while testifying.
Murad Hatip, an international relations expert working as the acting director of Piri Reis University’s Maritime History Research Center and a retired Turkish Naval Forces staff colonel, said firing shots at approaching ships is not a legal method through which to avoid conflict, according to international maritime law.
“According to the laws on avoiding conflict in international seas, there is no such method [as firing warning shots] to avoid a conflict in the sea,” said Hatip.
Meanwhile, hours after the Russian statement, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Turkey was “not in favor of tension,” state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
“We have seen the Russian statement. But we are continuously saying, ‘We are not in favor of tension.’ We are in favor of overcoming tension through dialogue,” Çavuşoğlu said.
A day after the incident in the Aegean Sea, a Russian Black Sea corvette and a coast guard boat forced a commercial vessel with a Turkish flag to change its course after getting in the way of a Crimean energy firm’s boats towing oil rigs, Reuters reported the company as saying on Dec. 14.
The firm, Chernomorneftegaz, said the rigs were delivered safely despite the run-in.