by Maria Spiliopoulou
ATHENS, April 17 (Xinhua) -- Greece neither threatens, but nor is afraid of anyone, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday, while speaking on the island of Kastellorizo near the borders with Turkey.
"I want to send a message of cooperation and peaceful coexistence, but also of determination... Greece is not threatening anyone, but is not afraid of anyone either," the Greek leader said, according to an e-mailed statement. "Greece can defend its sovereign rights... We do not bargain, nor do we give away a single inch of our territory," he added.
Tsipras was on a visit to Kastellorizo to inaugurate two desalination units as tensions between the two neighboring countries have increased in recent months.
The hope for Greece and Turkey to eradicate their historical territorial disputes suffered a setback in recent weeks as the two NATO members ratchet up tensions in the Aegean Sea.
Some Greek civilians reportedly raised a Greek flag on a disputed rocky islet across from the Turkish resort of Didim, but it was removed by Turkish coast guards on Sunday.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim urged the Greek government to avoid "provocative moves" in the disputed areas in the Aegean Sea.
Greek government spokesperson Dimitris Tzanakopoulos disputed the incident, calling Yildirim's statement "provocative," according to an e-mailed press release.
"The incident is under investigation," Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yannis Amanatidis told local SKAI television.
Haralambos Tsagalas, one of the three men, told Antenna television that there were no political motivations behind the action, denying that they were ultra-Right extremists. They raised the flag not to provoke Turkey, but to honor the memory of Greek pilot Yorgos Baltadoros, whose fighter jet crashed into the Aegean last week, he said.
A similar incident of hoisting and removing national flags by civilians and soldiers from Aegean Sea islets in 1996 brought the two NATO members to the brink of war, as Turkey disputed Greece's sovereignty in the area.