Greek Coast Guard shoots ‘suspicious’ Turkish cargo ship | New

Turkey says no casualties were reported in the incident near the Turkish island of Bozcaada and demands a prompt investigation.

Greek coastguards opened fire on a cargo ship sailing in international waters in the Aegean Sea, heightening tensions with Turkey that have escalated in recent weeks.

There were no casualties in the shooting 11 nautical miles (20 km) southwest of the Turkish island of Bozcaada on Saturday, according to a statement from the Turkish Coast Guard.

After “harassing fire” from two Greek ships, two Turkish coast guard vessels went to the area and the Greek boats left, he added.

The Greek Coast Guard has confirmed that it fired ‘warning shots’ at a vessel ‘moving suspiciously’ in Greek territorial waters off the island of Lesbos.

The captain of the freighter refused to allow an inspection and was later escorted to nearby Turkish waters, Greek Coast Guard officials said, noting that they had informed Turkish maritime authorities of the incident.

The region is known for many ships carrying migrants from Turkey to the European Union countries of Greece and Italy. The Greek coastguard says it regularly checks vessels with suspicious behavior in the Aegean Sea.

bogged down in arguments

Neighboring countries have been embroiled in disputes for decades and friction has intensified in recent weeks, with both sides alleging airspace violations. Greek officials have raised concerns about a new outbreak of conflict in Europe following Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Ankara has accused Athens of “occupying” some Aegean islands and harassing Turkish planes with Russian-made S-300 defense systems stationed there. Athens denies the allegations.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Greece it will pay a “heavy price” if it continues to harass Turkish warplanes over the Aegean Sea and hinted at military action.

Greece says it must defend its eastern islands, including the tourist hotspots of Rhodes and Kos, which are much closer to Turkey than to the Greek mainland, from its larger and militarily stronger neighbour.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday he remained open to a meeting with Erdogan.

“I consider the recent statements by the Turkish President to be unacceptable. However, we will always try to keep communication channels open,” Mitsotakis said, adding that an informal EU summit in early October in Prague could be a chance for that to happen.

The Turkish government protested to the Greek authorities, Ankara demanding a prompt investigation and explanation [File: Turkish Defence Ministry via AFP]

“Breaking the rules”

Video footage from Saturday allegedly shows a Greek coastguard vessel alongside the Anatolian freighter as the sound of a dozen gunshots is heard. A crew member speaks in Turkish, saying they are under attack from the Greek Coast Guard.

The video, which was released by the Turkish Coast Guard and appears to have been filmed on a mobile phone, shows what appears to be a bullet hole in a window and in the deck ceiling of the freighter.

The Turkish statement said the shots were “in defiance of the rules of international law”. The Anatolian’s 18-member crew consisted of six Egyptians, four Somalis, five Azerbaijanis and three Turks.

A Turkish prosecutor has ordered an investigation. The country has also protested to Greek authorities, with Ankara demanding a prompt investigation and explanation.

The Anatolian was anchored in the Dardanelles Strait off the Turkish coast on Sunday, the official Anadolu news agency reported.

Last week, the Greek government wrote letters to NATO, the EU and the United Nations, asking them to formally condemn the increasingly aggressive remarks by Turkish officials and suggesting that tensions could escalate into open conflict. .

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said the behavior of Turkey, also a NATO member, risked “a situation similar to what is currently unfolding in another part of our continent”, referring to the war in Ukraine.