Turkish Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan said he will visit Greece on Oct. 11 to discuss Ankara’s ban on Turkish-flagged commercial yachts and regular passenger ships sailing to Greece.
The ban came on Sept. 25 after Greek authorities seized 11 Turkish vessels for alleged violations of maritime regulations. A ban was also issued on regular passenger ships as of Oct.12.
“We will hold a meeting with the relevant minister in Greece on Oct. 12,” said Arslan in an interview with Anadolu Agency on Oct. 6.
Turkish authorities banned all commercial Turkish-flagged yachts and touristic vessels from sailing to Greek islands from ports on Turkey ‘s coast. Turkey’s Transport Ministry issued a ban on Turkish-flagged commercial yachts and regular passenger ships sailing to Greece as of Sept. 25 “after the Greek authorities seized 11 vessels for allegedly violating a maritime regulation overseeing the quality of international sea transportation.”
In a statement sent to regional port authorities, the ministry banned the sailing of Turkish-flagged commercial yachts to Greece as of Sept. 25, as well as regular passenger ships as of Oct. 12, citing the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Paris MoU) inspections.
Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan said Athens’ measures put Turkey’s position as a “white flag” country at risk, with a potential downgrade to “gray flag” status.
“As of today we have stopped the sailing of commercial yachts to Greece. The fact that Greece started to inspect and seize such small commercial vessels, shorter than 24 meters, by claiming that they did not comply with the rules, began to put at risk Turkey’s status as a white flag country. This is unacceptable,” Arslan told state broadcaster TRT Haber on Sept. 25.
The measure has affected tourism travels from the Aegean Turkish coasts of Bodrum, Marmaris, Kuşadası, Dikili and Ayvalık to Greece. Sailors demanded a review of the ministry’s decision.
The decision is a blow to tourism industry on both sides of the Aegean Sea. Many Turkish tourists travel to the Greek islands for short breaks, boosting revenues on both sides.
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