14.09.2020 | Turkey demands Greece pull troops as fears of full blown war erupt - 'Have sense!'
Source - The Daily Express
Hulusi Akar, Turkey’s Minister of Defence, visited Turkish island Antifellos and called for Greece to demilitarise 18 neighbouring islands. It comes after Greek troops were spotted mobilising on Kastellorizo, a short distance from Antifellos, and other islands in response to Turkey’s ships using contested waters to search for oil. Both countries have accused the other of breaking international law and have been embroiled in conflict over maritime rights in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Mr Akar claimed Greece’s increased military presence on the islands is “violation of international agreements and increases tensions” and stressed a desire to see the territory dispute resolved.
He added while visiting Antifellos: “An area of 40,000 kilometers is granted to Greece for Kastellorizo and this is not acceptable to us.
“We call on everyone to have sense. This is not how problems are solved.”
The Turkish minister’s comments came as Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou visited Kastellorizo to mark independence celebrations, which provoked Turkey.
During his visit to Kastellorizo, Mr Sakellaropoulou hit out at Turkey for “mounting pressure” on Greece due to their actions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
He said to reporters: "We are going through a difficult and dangerous period.
“The Turkish leadership... is undermining the peaceful coexistence that was built over many decades by Greeks and Turks, who saw the sea between them not as an impenetrable frontier but as a passage of communication.”
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also refused to demilitarise the islands, issuing a categorical Oxi, meaning no, response.
It follows Turkey returning its Oruç Reis Turkish research vessel to Anatolia, which has been in contested waters since August 10.
The ship was deployed to search for large potential oil and gas deposits south of Kastellorizo.
Mr Mitsotakis called the recall of the research vessel a “positive first step”, but said tensions remain.
He added: “The Greek side has never been the one to add fuel to the fire.”