In a letter to his European Union counterparts, Greece’s ambassador to Turkey, Kyriakos Loukakis, has asked them to abstain from attending the closing ceremony of the Denizkurdu 2017 (Seawolf) naval exercise.
Turkish media published excerpts of the letter, dismissing it as Greek “propaganda” to the Europeans.
Kathimerini understands that Loukakis said the decision by Turkish authorities to extend invitations to European diplomats is “unheard of” due to the spate of Turkish violations of Greek air space and territorial waters – in particular the appearance of Turkish missile boats off the islet of Agathonisi during the exercise which, reports in Athens say, was intended as show of Turkish force in the Aegean.
This was apparent a few days ago to residents on the eastern coast of Paros and Naxos’s western shores, who were greeted by the sight of Turkish frigates moving slowly through the strait between the two central Aegean islands – within Greek territorial waters.
Sources told Kathimerini that this year’s Denikurdu differed from other exercises in the past in that it was the first time Turkish military vessels had sailed within the Cycladic group of islands.
There was no letup in tensions on Friday as, according to Greek authorities, a total of 79 Turkish violations was recorded. There was also a mock dogfight between Greek and Turkish jets south of Rhodes in the southeastern Aegean.
According to reports in Athens, the government is concerned that there may be a barrage of violations on May 22 and 23 when the Conference for Security and Stability will be held on Rhodes.
The conference, taking place on the island for a second straight year, will be attended by representatives from European and Arab countries (Greece, Cyprus, Albania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Lebanon, Egypt, the UAE, Tunisia, Libya, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia).