NEWS

Athens ponders Turks’ latest Aegean moves

As a continued search by sea and air failed yesterday to locate any trace of the six missing Egyptian and Lebanese sailors from a North Korean-flagged freighter that sank off Psara on Monday, the ministers of defense and foreign affairs met to discuss the increasing signs of Turkish aggression in the Aegean. The wreck of the Lady O in gale-force winds north of Psara in the eastern Aegean, in which two seamen died and three were rescued, highlighted simmering mistrust between Greece and Turkey as Turkish officials tried to take over the search-and-rescue operation – although the freighter foundered in the Greek area of jurisdiction. At one point, Greek fighter jets were sent to identify Turkish rescue helicopters in the area. The incident followed a series of protracted incursions by Turkish coast guard vessels into Greek waters round the eastern Aegean Imia islets, over which the two countries came close to war in January 1996, and violations of Greek air space by Turkish military jets. The matters were discussed in yesterday’s meeting, but no details of the talks were made public. Greece has already briefed the European Union on the incidents. Meanwhile, Athens yesterday confirmed reports of Turkish naval activity near a Greek rock in the sea east of Samothrace last week.