Turkey warns Greek minister off Aegean islets

Turkey warns Greek minister off Aegean islets

The Turkish Coast Guard on Jan. 28 blocked Greece’s defense minister from approaching a pair of disputed islets in the Aegean Sea, according to Turkey’s Interior Ministry, Hurriyet Daily News reports.

Coast guard officers warned off Panos Kammenos, who was heading to the Kardak (Imia) islets in an assault boat to lay a wreath there for three Greek military personnel who died during the 1996 Kardak crisis.

Following the warning, the Greek boat left Turkey’s territorial waters without further incident, the ministry added.

In a statement, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said the coast guard units “did what was necessary.”

The Turkish General Staff also said in a written statement that the Greek naval vessel Nikiforos and a Greek Coast Guard boat had been moving toward the islets at 11:30 a.m. local time. Their approach was blocked by Turkish Naval Forces and Coast Guard units, said the military.

It added that the Turkish Armed Forces continue to determinedly protect the nation’s rights and interests stemming from international law and agreements.