Another provocative Greek attempt in the Aegean Sea was prevented Monday by Turkish Naval Forces after a similar incident took place only a day before when Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos wanted to approach a pair of Turkish islets in the area, security sources said.
Turkish and Greek forces faced off again on Monday as the latter attempted to send a boat to the islets. However, Turkish forces prevented the Greeks from approaching the area. Security sources said the Greek government sought to take advantage of Operation Olive Branch, sending naval forces to the Turkish islets.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Turkish Naval Forces and Coast Guard had been previously warned at the beginning of Operation Olive Branch, saying that Greece may attempt to exploit the situation to send a message to the world.
The prediction proved true on Sunday, and the Turkish forces were well prepared. The Greek defense minister was stopped as he approached the Kardak islets. That being said, Athens did not give up. Another boat was sent a day after, which was also prevented from crossing. The incidents were interpreted by Turkish sources as "the Greeks running into a stone wall."
Sources underlined that Kammenos brought Greek journalists with him in an attempt to spread negative images to the world. The minister previously flew over the Kardak islets in February 2017, throwing wreaths to commemorate soldiers who were killed in the military muscle show during the tensions over the islets 21 years ago.
A decades-long dispute between Turkey and Greece over the uninhabited Aegean islets brought the two countries to the brink of armed conflict in 1996 and led to renewed tensions this year. The Kardak islets are a pair of two, small, uninhabited islets, situated between the Greek island chain of the Dodecanese and the southwestern mainland coast of Turkey.
The crisis was triggered when a Turkish vessel shipwrecked on the islets on Dec. 25, 1995. Greece claimed that the accident took place in its territorial waters, which Turkey denied, claiming that the islets belonged 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, said at the time that Turkey was ready for a military operation and sent troops to the western islet to plant the Turkish flag. Tensions were defused when then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, American delegates and the NATO undersecretary spoke with both sides and the situation reverted back to normal.