ANKARA – Relations between Turkey and Greece have heated up again after Ankara accused Athens of harassing its research vessel in the Aegean Sea, which the latter has strongly denied. This incident occurred as the two NATO member countries attempted to continue talks on maritime disputes.
The research vessel Cesme began survey work last week in international waters between the two countries. This suddenly sparked protests from Greece.
Turkey’s defense ministry said four Greek F-16 fighter jets approached the Cesme ship on Monday and one of them dropped a chaff flare two nautical miles from the ship.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkey would respond to the action with the necessary retribution in line with the rules.
“When we do scientific work, harassment is inappropriate, it is not suitable for good neighborly relations,” he told reporters in the Turkish parliament.
A Greek defense ministry official has denied the allegations. He said Greek fighter jets never interrupted Turkish ships.
After five years of absence, Turkish and Greek officials met on January 25 to discuss a decades-long dispute over maritime zoning and rights to energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean. The two countries, which are true allies, agreed to meet again in Athens.