Tension has risen again in the Aegean Sea, when Turkish coast guards pointed their guns to their Greek colleagues in the sea area off the island of Farmakonisi on Sunday night. Τhe incident took place as a possible meeting between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkei President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York, and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias briefed his EU counterparts of “Turkish delinquent behavior.”
Athens submitted a protest note to Ankara over the incident in Farmakonisi, where a Turkish Coast Guard vessel sailed to the edge of the territorial waters, stayed there for 13 minutes and at some point, the crew pointed with their guns at the men a Greek Coast Guard boat patrolling in the area.
Meanwhile in New York, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias briefed the European Union Foreign Ministers about the latest cases of Turkish delinquent behavior during a discussion held on the sidelines of the 76th UN General Assembly.
Citing diplomatic sources, state-run news agency amna reported that Dendias focused on the unacceptable action of a Turkish warship, which disturbed a vessel conducting scientific research within the demarcated Greek continental shelf.
He stressed that the Maltese-flagged research vessel “Nautical Geo” was located just 10 nautical miles east of Crete in a sea area bordered by the Greek-Egyptian agreement of August 6, 2020.
Dendias pointed out that the Turkish behavior has now gone beyond any framework of logic and in no way is in line with the image of “normality” that Turkey wants to promote. As he commented, this is an image that unfortunately has nothing to do with reality.
There has been sheer confusion over a possible meeting between Mitsotakis and Erdogan in New York, after the latter said on Sunday that he accepted the Greek request. Right on Monday morning, the Greek side dismissed that there was such a request but did not rule it out.
Confusion was also created when the FM announced over the weekend a sharp demarche to Ankara over the harassment of the Nautical Geo, but on Monday an older demarche on “illegal fishing of Turkish fishermen in the Aegean” was given to media.
PS Currently, there seems to be some kind of disagreement within the ruling New Democracy on how to proceed with neighboring Turkey. The PM is under pressure in the aftermath of the August wildfires and the price hikes and needs a ‘success’ achievement even if with Turkey. At the same time, his potential successors within ND, among them also the FM, are preparing the ground for the after-Mitsotakis era.
One colleague told me on Monday that “the PM’s PR team is at the end of their creativity on how to boost the PM’s image” and speculated that they want “the Turks to get on their knees and beg for a meeting and present it as victory.”