New ‘incident’ off Imia rocks

Greek and Turkish coast guard patrol boats shadowed each other once again on Saturday at the Imia islets, over which the two countries nearly fought in 1996. The Turkish boat entered Greek waters off the uninhabited rocks around 10 a.m., prompting a Greek vessel to draw up and demand its departure. Both left the area around 1.20 p.m. Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis dismissed the affair as «an incident, not a standoff.» On April 12, during a visit to Ankara by Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, a similar standoff had lasted for over 26 hours. Meanwhile, Turkish press reports yesterday quoted the head of the country’s joint chiefs of staff, General Hilmi Ozkok, as saying Turkey had accepted an apology from the Greek army chief of staff over a recent incident in which a Turkish flag was defaced at the army cadet academy and left for a group of visiting Turkish cadets to find. Last week, Ozkok threatened to scrap measures to reduce military tension in the Aegean unless Greece apologized for the flag affair, which coincided with the April 12 Imia incident.

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