Fresh tension arises in the Aegean as Greek fishermen drop anchor in Kardak islets

Published 02.01.2017 00:00
Updated 02.01.2017 18:48
DHA Photo.
DHA Photo.

Tension between Turkish and Greek coast guard units escalated in the new year over the islets of Kardak, also known as Imia, in the Aegean Sea after 10 Greek fishing boats violated Turkish territorial waters on Monday, at 09:00 a.m. (06:00 a.m. GMT).

Turkish coast guard boats contained Greek fishing boats and prevented them from dropping anchor in the Kardak islets, located 3.5 miles off Turkey's Aegean coast, forcing them to return to their own territorial waters.

Later on, Greek coast guard boats also approached the islets.

Both Turkish and Greek coast guard units are reportedly maintaining their positions as the tense wait continues.

Three Greek coast guard boats, accompanied by fishing boats from the Greek islands of Kalimnos and Leros, have been sailing around the Kardak islets multiple times since the beginning of late December.

The Kardak 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.

The islets caused a military crisis between Turkey and Greece on Dec. 25, 1995 when a Turkish vessel shipwrecked on the islets of Kardak.

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 were defused when then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, American delegates and the NATO Undersecretary spoke with both sides and the situation reverted to normal.

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