The Greek Coast Guard fired on a cargo ship in the Aegean Sea

The Greek Coast Guard fired on a cargo ship in the Aegean Sea
The Greek Coast Guard fired on a cargo ship in the Aegean Sea

The Greek coast guard opened fire on a cargo ship sailing in international waters in the Aegean Sea, the Turkish coast guard said today, as quoted by the Associated Press.

No one was injured in the shooting, which took place on Saturday 11 nautical miles southwest of the Turkish island of Bozcaada, the Turkish statement said. It also said that following the “threatening shelling” by two Greek coast guard vessels, two Turkish coast guard vessels arrived in the area and the Greek vessels left the area.

The Associated Press tried to contact the Greek embassy in Ankara but was unsuccessful, so the motive for the shooting remains unknown at this time.

DPA cited a statement from the Greek coast guard, which confirmed the shooting but said warning shots were fired because of a vessel that was “moving suspiciously” in Greek territorial waters off the island of Lesbos. According to the Greek announcement, the captain of the Anatolian refused to allow an inspection, after which the vessel was escorted to nearby Turkish waters. The Greek coast guard indicates that it has informed the Turkish coast guard about the case, DPA reports.

The area is known for the many ships that illegally transport migrants from Turkey to the EU countries – Greece and Italy. The Greek coast guard says it regularly checks ships behaving suspiciously in the Aegean Sea.

The incident comes at a time of deteriorating relations between Greece and Turkey. The neighboring countries have been embroiled in disputes for decades, and friction has escalated in recent weeks. Greek officials have expressed fears of a new outbreak of conflict in Europe following Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Turkey claims Greece is violating international agreements by maintaining a military presence on islands near Turkey’s Aegean coast. It also accused Greek air defenses of blocking Turkish fighter jets during NATO exercises over the eastern Mediterranean.

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

Video of yesterday’s incident, released by the Turkish coast guard, shows a Greek coast guard vessel next to the Comoros-flagged vessel Anatolian, with about a dozen shots being fired. A Turkish-speaking crew member said they were attacked by the Greek coast guard, AP reported. The footage, which appears to have been captured on a mobile phone, shows what appears to be a bullet hole in the cargo ship’s window and bridge ceiling.

Anatolian’s eighteen-member crew consists of six Egyptians, four Somalis, five Azerbaijanis and three Turks.

The Turkish statement stated that the shooting constituted a violation of the rules of international law. A Turkish prosecutor has ordered an investigation. Ankara has protested to the Greek authorities and demanded a quick investigation and explanation.

On Sunday, the ship “Anatolian” dropped anchor in the Dardanelles Strait, the Anatolian Agency reported.

This week, the Greek government sent letters to NATO, the EU and the United Nations asking them to formally condemn increasingly aggressive statements by Turkish officials and hinting that tensions could escalate into open conflict.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said the behavior of Turkey, which is also a NATO member, risks leading to “a situation similar to what is currently developing in some other parts of our continent”, referring to the war in Ukraine , recalls AP, quoted by BTA.

Tags: Greek Coast Guard fired cargo ship Aegean Sea

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