On Thursday, shots were exchanged between a Greek coast guard patrol boat and a Turkish coast guard vessel. While both countries have confirmed the incident, each blames the other for provoking it.
Turkish media has claimed that the incident began when a Greek patrol boat harassed Turkish fishing vessels before the Turkish coast guard intervened. However, Greece has stated that it was the reverse, with a Turkish patrol boat harassing Greek boats.
Both countries are accusing the other of engaging in acts of aggression. According to officials in Athens, a Greek coast guard patrol boat crew fired warning shots Thursday in an effort to deter a Turkish coast guard vessel that was attempting to ram them in the eastern Aegean Sea. A day after the incident, tensions between the two countries remain elevated.
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A statement from the Greek coast guard notes that “the crew fired warning shots in a secure sector, and the Turkish coast guard vessel withdrew.” The statement suggests that shots were fired into the air and not directly at the Turkish boat.
Greece is also accusing the Turks of having “carried out dangerous maneuvers with the intention of ramming” the Greek vessel. According to Greek authorities, the incident occurred near the Greek islet of Farmakonissi, which lies 1.5 nautical miles inside Greece’s territorial waters.
While 2022 was a relatively quiet year between the neighboring countries, boat ramming incidents like the one that occurred Thursday, have been occurring more frequently in recent years.
Greek media has speculated that Turkish President Recep Erdoğan could be planning a war and attempting to take control of Greek territorial waters, particularly in the Aegean Sea. Cyprus has also accused Turkey of conducting frequent illegal incursions into its waters as well.
Cyprus and Greece have condemned Turkish fishing and oil and gas exploration inside their respective Exclusive Economic Zones for years, with both countries having continuously filed complaints with the EU. The incursions have become such a problem that France has even offered to provide military assistance to monitor air and maritime intrusions by the Turkish military.