Turkey slams Greek minister for ‘stirring tension in Aegean’

Turkey slams Greek minister for ‘stirring tension in Aegean’

Turkey slams Greek minister for ‘stirring tension in Aegean’

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The recent actions and statements of the Greek defense minister are “unacceptable and are raising the tensions in the Aegean,” Turkey has said amid escalating tension between neighbors.

“We invite the Greek government to display common sense and to take these irresponsible actions under control as soon as possible,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a press release published March 7.

The Aegean region has witnessed increasing tension between its neighbors, which particularly escalated after the election of the new Syriza government in Greece in January.

Immediately after assuming the post, new Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos visited the disputed Aegean islets of Imia/Kardak with a military helicopter on Jan. 30.

In another move that infuriated Ankara, Kammenos said in February that the Cyprus problem remains a subject of “invasion and occupation” for the Greek government.

He criticized the presence of the Turkish seismic vessel Barbaros in the Exclusive Economic Zone in the eastern Mediterranean, calling it a “provocation.”

Kammenos also said Greece planned to conduct a joint drill with the Greek Cypriot administration, Israel and possibly Egypt in the coming months.

“It is clear that the continuation of these irresponsible actions will not serve any purpose other than increasing tensions in Turkish and Greek relations and in the Aegean,” the Turkish statement said. “It is also obvious that this attitude will harm the efforts toward the improvement of bilateral relations between the two countries and the settlement of disputes in the Aegean.”

Turkey is determined to protect its rights and interests in the Aegean “by taking measures within the framework of international law,” the ministry added.

The countries’ relations recently saw more tension over an aviation notice issued by Turkey for a 10-month military drill in the Aegean Sea.

The Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued by Turkey sparked reaction from the Greek government, which reportedly complained about the move to international organizations over a “violation of Greek integrity and flight safety.”

Ankara then withdrew the warning, saying it had “mistakenly” declared inaccurate coordinates for long-distance dangerous areas.