Fresh incident with Turkey near Imia attributed to fishing turf spat

Fresh incident with Turkey near Imia attributed to fishing turf spat

The incident on Wednesday morning involving a Hellenic Coast Guard patrol boat that was rammed by a Turkish vessel near the uninhabited Imia islets was seen to be connected to the so-called “bream war” in an area whose Greek sovereignty is disputed by Turkey.

In a statement, the Hellenic Coast Guard said that its vessel, a Rafnar 1100 Cabin Assault patrol rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RIB), had been harassed by a Turkish Coast Guard vessel during a patrol in the area. 

No one was injured in the incident, while the vessel suffered minor damage, it said.

According to sources, Greek fishing boats near the east coast of Imia were initially harassed by two Turkish Coast Guard vessels. Then a third, smaller vessel sought to flank the Greek fishing boats and destroy their nets. The fishermen notified the Hellenic Coast Guard, which initially dispatched a vessel that had been patrolling the area. The vessel crew, realizing the number of Turkish vessels it was facing, called for reinforcements. As soon as the second coast guard vessel arrived in the area, it was rammed by one of the Turkish vessels, which officials said had been involved in similar incidents in the past. 

The islets, known in Turkish as Kardak, brought the two Aegean neighbors to the brink of war in January 1996.

Similar incidents in this area east of the Imia islets have also been recorded in the past. In an earlier interview with Kathimerini, the president of the Kalymnos Coastal Fisheries Association, Manolis Koullias, had said that the aggressive attitude of Turkish boats often forces them to leave the area. 

“We did not want to endanger our physical integrity and our ship, nor create problems to our country’s foreign policy,” he said.

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