Hopes that tension between Athens and Ankara would subside after the meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday were dashed on Monday after two Turkish missile boats entered Greek territorial waters off the southeast Aegean island of Agathonisi.
The vessels, which were taking part in a maritime exercise code-named Denizkurdu (Seawolf), stayed in Greek territorial waters for about 20 minutes. They were monitored by Hellenic Navy vessels before they left. Last month Agathonisi was described as a “Turkish island” by Turkey’s Minister of European Union Affairs Omer Celik.
Meanwhile, on Monday morning, before the Turkish missile boats approached Agathonisi, Ankara issued another navigational telex (navtex) reserving areas for military exercises in the northern Aegean, including in Greek territorial waters off the island of Zourafa, east of Samothrace. In a previous navtex issued on Saturday, Ankara had reserved large chunks of the central Aegean for June, drawing Greek reaction.
Nonetheless, before Monday's incident, government officials had hailed the meeting between Tsipras and Erdogan in Beijing on Saturday as positive.
Both men agreed on the need to find a way to rebuild confidence, even though the Turkish leader reiterated – albeit less aggressively than on previous occasions – his call for the extradition of eight Turkish servicemen who fled to Greece after the coup attempt in the neighboring country last year.
However, given the precarious nature of relations with Ankara, Athens is anticipating the results of the meeting on Tuesday between Erdogan and US President Donald Trump.