Greece issues demarche to Turkey about boat ramming in Aegean Sea

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-14 01:44:30|Editor: yan
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by Maria Spiliopoulou

ATHENS, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Greece filed a demarche with the Turkish embassy in Athens on Tuesday over the ramming of a Greek Coast Guard patrol vessel by a Turkish Coast Guard patrol boat in the Aegean Sea shortly before midnight on Monday, the Greek foreign ministry announced.

The incident occurred off the islet of Imia (Kardak for Turkey) which has been at the center of a dispute over sovereignty that brought the two countries to the brink of war in 1996.

No injuries were reported, but the Greek boat suffered damages and was transferred to nearby Leros island and later to Salamina port in the mainland for repair, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

According to the Greek side, the incident occurred within Greece's territorial waters and immediately the Turkish ship sailed away towards the Turkish coast.

A similar incident had occurred on Jan. 17 this year when a Turkish vessel also bumped onto a Greek Navy cannon vessel in the area, AMNA stressed.

Foreign ministry secretary general Dimitrios Paraskevopoulos conveyed the Greek government's protest, while the Turkish ambassador to Athens was called to the ministry for explanations, according to an e-mailed press statement by the Greek foreign ministry.

Athens called on Turkey to "put an end to the infringements of international law and to actions that do not contribute to building relations between the two countries," saying the infringements "undermine the regional security and stability, which Greece advocates and will continue to advocate for," the press statement read.

"Dangerous incidents like this that endanger human lives are a result of the escalating and provocative behavior that Turkey is increasingly exhibiting the last few days," the press release added.

Athens has already informed NATO about the incident, as well as members of the UN Security Council, and has filed protests with the European Union, AMNA said, citing diplomatic sources.

European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said: "We are following this development closely...we reiterate the need for Turkey to commit unequivocally to good neighborly relations and avoid any kind of source of friction or action directed against member states, which damages good neighborly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes," according to AMNA.

The Greek vessel cost about 28.8 million euros (35.6 million U.S. dollars), according to Greek Coast Guard sources. Seventy-five percent of the cost was covered with European funds.

The vessel arrived in Greece in October 2015 during the peak of the refugees and migrants influx from Turkish shores to the Greek islands. (1 euro = 1.23 U.S. dollars)