Turkish Army Chief sailed on Warship into Greek Waters Near Imia Islets, Athens talks of provocation
|Posted by moodhacker on January 30, 2017 at 12:25 AM|
A Turkish gunboat reportedly carrying Hulusi Akar, the Turkish armed forces' Chief of Staff, entered Greek waters on Sundayurkish morning, a move seen by the Greek authoritaries and the Armed Forces as "provocation".
Greece's own armed forces were put on high alert over the development, but it seems the Greek Navy was on preparedness for svuch an incident, especially after the Turkish President's and Foreign Minister's rough statements on the two countries bilateral relations, that followed the court ruling in Greece this week that turned down tan extradition request for the eight Turkish military officers who had landed in Alexandrpoli on July 15. .
According to Hürriyet D aily News, Gen Akar was visiting the "disputed Aegean islets of Kardak" accompanied by the land, naval and air forces.
"Turkish Military Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar paid a surprise visit to Kardak islets in the Aegean Sea on Sunday, on the 21st anniversary of the military muscle show incident that brought the two countries on the brink of armed conflict, while relations are tense due to Greece's refusal to extradite eight FETÖ-affiliated pro-coup soldiers to Turkey, Daily Sabah wrote.
Accompanied by army, navy and air force commanders, Akar reportedy first visited Aksaz Navy Base Command located near Turkey's Aegean resort town of Marmaris.
Following the visit, Akar and the accompanying commanders cruised near the Imia (Kardak in Turkish) islets which are claimed by both countries and had been previously a source of tension again between Turkey and Greece since late 2016. The Imia Islets are a pair of two small uninhabited islets in the Aegean Sea, situated between the Greek island chain of the Dodecanese and the southwestern mainland coast of Turkey.
Right after Akar's visit, Turkish media reports claimed that a Greek military vessel tried to prevent the ship carrying Akar from getting close to the islets. Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) denied these reports in a statement, showing a photo of Akar on the vessel near one of the islets while a Greek patrol boat cruising next to it. The TSK also released a video clip from Akar's visit.
The relations between Turkey and Greece were recently strained by a top Greek court's refusal on Thursday to extradite eight pro-coup soldiers who fled to Greece after the July 15 coup attempTurkish officials harshly criticized the decision for being highly political and ignoring bilateral and international treaties, stating that Greece once again disappointed Turkey by supporting terrorism, whileTurkish Foreign Minister openly stated that the soldiers had tried to murder Tayip Erdogan.
General Akar's visit coincided with the anniversary of the deaths of three Greek soldiers when their helicopter crashed during a reconnaissance mission on Jan. 1996 at the height of military crisis between Turkey and Greece triggered when a Turkish vessel shipwrecked on Imia islets on Dec. 25, 1995.
Greece claimed that the accident took place on its territorial waters, which was denied by Turkey, who claimed that the aforementioned islets belong to Turkey. The Greek military sent a soldier to plant the Greek flag on an islet in the east, resulting in the deployment of troops from both countries around the islets.
Turkey's only female prime minister, Tansu Çiller stated at the time that Turkey was ready for a military operation and sent troops to the western islet to plant the Turkish flag, famously saying "The Greek flag will be removed and Greek soldiers will be sent away."
Tensions over Imia had been defused 21 years earlier when then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, American delegates and the NATO Undersecretary spoke with both sides and the situation reverted to normal.