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Did Turkish Coast Guard prohibit Greek Defense Minister from approaching Imia?

Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammos sailed to the islet of Imia on Sunday to pay respect to the three Greek pilots lost their lives when an Augusta Bell Helicopter fell into the sea during the Imia conflict on 28 Janaurary 1996. Officials pictures  and videos released by the defense Ministry show Kammenos throwing a wreath into the Aegean Sea. But in which part of the Aegean did the minister throw the wreath?

The Turkish Coast Guard claimed it has “successfully managed to prohibit the Greek defense Minister” from approaching the islet for which Ankara challenges the Greek sovereignty.

Picture via Turkish news agency AnadolU gives position of the Turkish ships and boats as well as of a turkish Coast Guard helicopter. The two islets of Imia are behind the boat of Turkish Coast Guard “Sahil Guvenlik” on the left of the picture.

They released footage to confirm their claim.

Turkish boats and ships marked in red

Sources of the Greek General Staff confirmed to Greek media that warships and boats of the Turkish coast guard were indeed in the area around Imia.


Movements of Turkish boats in Greek territorial waters earlier on Sunday – screen shots forwarded to KTG.

Minister Kammenos was on board of gunboat Nikiforos.

Citing sources, Greek state boradcast ERT reported that the Turkish footage shoes nothing more than Turkish activity around the Imia. And that Minister Kammenos threw the wreath exactly in the position where the August Bell fell.

It is the third time, Panos Kammenos honors the pilots Panagiotis Vlahakos, Christodoulos Karathanasis and Ektoras Gialopsos.

During the Imia crisis of 1996, at the night of 28 January, Greek special forces landed secretly on the east islet undetected. On the 30th of January, Turkish and Greek officials gave statements, each insisting on their sovereign rights on Imia or Kardak as Turkey calles the islet.

On 31 January at 1:40 am Turkish special forces SAT Commandos also landed undetected on the west islet escalating the tensions. It was not until 4 hours later when the Greeks noticed this when a Greek helicopter took off at 5:30 am from the Greek frigate Navarino for reconnaissance. During the mission it crashed over the islets (some speculating due to Turkish fire), but this was concealed by both states[to prevent further escalation.

A military escalation between the two neighboring states was averted with the intervention of the White House and then US President Bill Clinton.

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