Turkey starts building watchtower on island of Çavuş near controversial Kardak islets
The island of Çavuş is only 300 meters long and 70 meters wide and is located near the controversial islets.
A facility to accommodate soldiers will also be built on the small island, Doğan News Agency reported on Feb. 15.
Towing boats, pickup machinery and equipment to be used in the construction of the watchtower, as well as workers were transported from the Gümüşlük pier to Çavuş island.
The construction works on the island, which began on Feb. 15, are expected to be completed in three weeks, according to the news agency.
While the machinery, equipment and workers were being transported, two boats belonging to the Greek navy patrolled near Kalymnos island and observed Turkish activities.
Thermal cameras will be installed on the planned watchtower to help the Turkish Coast Guard to monitor and prevent illegal migration and territorial violations around the clock in controversial waters, CNN Türk reported on Feb. 14.
The cameras installed on the tower will also enable the Turkish Coast Guard to monitor naval activities around the Kardak islets.
The Turkish government planned the watchtower two years ago but the tender process for the construction work has only been finalized recently.
Tensions in the Aegean Sea
The Kardak islets lie just seven kilometers from the Turkish resort town of Bodrum.
A row over the sovereignty of the islets flared in January 1996, when the two countries sent marines to two neighboring islands at the sign of an imminent armed confrontation.
They then withdrew their troops after heavy diplomatic pressure by the United States.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım spoke with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras over the phone and discussed recent developments in the Aegean Sea.
“We explicitly expressed to him [Tsipras] that it will be better to avoid tensions, regarding relations between the two countries,” Yıldırım said on Feb. 14.
He said the Aegean Sea should be a sea of “friendship” between Turkey and Greece.
“Recently, there have been some violations of this tension, beginning with the Kardak islets, to which we have responded to,” Yılıdırım said.
He added that the two premiers agreed to ease tensions and keep communication lines open via political and diplomatic channels.
The chiefs of the general staff of the two countries will gather at a meeting of NATO General Staff in May and mutually discuss the necessary measures to ensure tensions in the field do not escalate further, according to Yıldırım.