Wednesday, 28 Oct 2020

Greece vs Turkey: Tensions erupt after Greek flag painted RED on Island of Kastellorizo

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Officials in Greece have accused Turkey of de-facing the Greek flag on the Island of Kastellorizo, located in the Eastern Mediterranean, amid an ongoing maritime dispute in the region. On Saturday images surfaced of a blue and white Greek flag painted on a rocky hillside stained with red paint – a colour symbolic with Turkey.

The Greek Foreign Ministry has branded the incident an “insult” on the country’s flag and called on Ankara to launch an investigation.

In a statement the ministry said: “We blatantly condemn yesterday’s insult of the Greek flag on Kastellorizo.

“We expect Turkish authorities to immediately condemn and investigate the incident, so that the culprits are brought before justice.

“Such unacceptable actions only seek to torpedo prospects for easing tensions between the two countries.”

An aerial drone equipped with a loudspeaker also reportedly flew over the Island playing the Turkish national anthem.

The Turkish Government is yet to issue a response to the accusations.

Relations between the two nations have worsened in recent months after two vessels from Athens and Ankara collided following the discovery of large gas reserves in the Mediterranean Sea.

In August, Ankara sent its Oruc Reis survey vessel near to the location of hydrocarbon resources – a move Athens branded illegal.

In the wake of the marine dispute, Greece announced plans to extend the western limit of its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to 12 miles – an increase from the current six-mile limit.

The proposal to extend the boundary has prompted a furious response from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

Mr Erdogan has vowed to do whatever is necessary to obtain its rights in the Black Sea, Aegean and Mediterranean.

Following condemnation from the international community, officials from Greece and Turkey had agreed to end a four-year hiatus and restart exploratory talks.

However, discussions to solve the ongoing dispute have stalled in recent weeks.

On Thursday Stelios Petsas, spokesman for the Greek Government said: “Right now we do not have a date.

“We are moving towards there relatively soon.”

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Turkey has also given no time for a resumption of the talks, but a senior official has said they could begin by the end of the month.

With talks set to begin, the European Union is unlikely to follow through on a threat to impose sanctions on Turkey, according to a senior EU diplomat.

Another EU official said the postponement of Thursday’s EU summit in Brussels, also allowed more time to find a solution.

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