Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos on Tuesday congratulated the captain of the Greek frigate Limnos that accidentally collided with a Turkish ship during a standoff in the Eastern Mediterranean last week and indicated that Greece is prepared to hold talks with Turkey on the condition that it withdraws its warships and seismic research vessels from the area of the Greek continental shelf.
Meanwhile a photograph made public by Kathimerini on Wednesday reveals the damage sustained to the right side of the stern of the Kemal Reis frigate during the collision on August 12 when the Turkish Oruc Reis survey vessel was moving between Cyprus and Crete, shadowed by Greek frigates.
The captain of the Kemal Reis had sought to obstruct the Limnos, prompting the Greek ship to turn to avoid a head-on collision and in the process knock the rear of the Turkish frigate with its bow. Sources told Kathimerini that the Limnos narrowly missed the Turkish vessel’s pump room.
In an exchange on Tuesday over the radio with the Greek frigate’s captain, Commander Ioannis Saliaris, Panagiotopoulos congratulated him, saying: “You’re the man, Captain. Congratulations.” Saliaris responded that he had simply done his duty.
The minister also spoke by phone with his German counterpart Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, making it clear that Greece is prepared to enter dialogue with Turkey in the framework of international law as long as Turkey immediately withdraws its warships and seismic research vessels from the Greek continental shelf.
Earlier on Tuesday, Alexandros Diakopoulos, the prime minister’s national security adviser, sought to clarify a previous statement about the Oruc Reis, noting that the ship “tried” to conduct a seismic survey in Greek waters but did not go through with it.
Meanwhile, in Nicosia, Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said Cyprus has maritime deals with Egypt, Israel and Lebanon and is “ready to hold discussions with other neighboring states on establishing maritime zones.” His comments came during talks with his visiting Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, who said he expected EU ministers to discuss a list of potential sanctions against Turkey next week. “This escalation of Turkish aggression is directed against the European Union, and consequently, there should be an escalation of the European reaction to counter it,” he said.