On Wednesday 14 February, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim explicitly told Greece that refraining from tensions would be “better” for bilateral ties.
Talking to reporters at Ankara’s Esenboga Airport before leaving for Belarus, PM Yildirim stated: “We explicitly expressed to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that staying away from tensions will be better, with regards to relations between the two countries.”
The prime minister’s remarks came a day after he and Tsipras spoke over the phone and discussed recent developments in the Aegean Sea.
Yildirim said that the Aegean Sea should be a “friendship” between Turkey and Greece and should be used “efficiently” for the welfare of the two countries.
“Recently, there have been some violations during this tension, which started with Kardak rocks, to which we gave a response,” Yildirim said.
According to Greek news agency AMNA, a Turkish patrol boat rammed into a Greek Coast Guard patrol boat near the Kardak islets in the southeastern Aegean on Monday night.
On January 28, the Turkish Coast Guard blocked Greece’s Defense Minister Panos Kammenos from approaching a pair of Turkish islets in the Aegean.
Coast guard officers warned Kammenos, who was heading to the Kardak islets in an assault boat to lay a wreath there. Following the warning, the Greek boat left Turkey’s territorial waters.
A decades-long dispute between Turkey and Greece over the uninhabited Aegean islets brought the two countries to the brink of armed conflict in 1996 and led to renewed tensions this year.
“Tension or risk of clash cannot be one-sided. If there is a violation, there is a violation made by the other party as well.”
“Therefore, it is not only Turkey that should be careful in avoiding such violations. At the same time, actors in the field from Greece should be more careful and act in accordance with the law, and stay away from disputed areas,” the PM told reporters.
He also added that the two primers had agreed to ease tensions and to keep their lines of communication open via political and diplomatic channels.
Yildirim informed that a NATO General Staffs meeting would be held in May.
“In this framework, the chiefs of General Staff of the two countries will gather and mutually discuss the necessary measures to ensure tensions in the field do not escalate further,” he added.