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Iran Press TV

Turkey accuses Greece of 'harassing' research ship in Aegean Sea

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 23 February 2021 7:14 PM

Turkey has accused the Greek military of "harassing" a Turkish vessel in the Aegean Sea, despite efforts by Athens and Ankara to resolve their differences over the disputed waters.

Turkey's Defense Ministry claimed on Tuesday that four Greek F-16 fighters had flown close to the TCG Cesme ship, which was carrying out "technical and scientific research" in waters near the Greek island of Lemnos.

One of the Greek fighter jets was alleged to have flown "at an altitude of 1,000 meters" and dropped a flare "two nautical miles" away from the Turkish research ship.

"This is unfortunately one of the frequent acts of harassment by our Greek neighbors," Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in statement.

Without providing further details, Akar said that Turkey had made an "adequate response" to the incident.

"We all believe that such harassment is not appropriate and does not suit good neighborly relations," he added.

Greek media reported that an official from the country's Defense Ministry had denied that its fighter jets had harassed a Turkish vessel.

The Turkish Navy deployed the TCG Cesme ship on a scientific mission in the Aegean Sea last week and said the vessel would carry out surveys of the islands of Lemnos, Skyros, and Alonnisos until March 2, a move that drew protests from Greece.

For the first time in five years, representatives from Ankara and Athens resumed talks over energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean last month with the aim of settling long-standing disputes between the two NATO member countries. The two sides have agreed on a subsequent meeting in the Greek capital.

Greece and Turkey, both of them NATO members, have been locked in a long-lasting territorial dispute over hydrocarbon resources in the Mediterranean Sea.

Tensions escalated last year between the two after Turkey began a military-backed hydrocarbon exploration venture in waters between Greece and Cyprus.

Turkey's discovery of major gas deposits in the waters sparked anger in Greece, which responded with naval drills.

Despite warnings from the European Union, Ankara has organized several gas exploration missions in Greek waters, triggering a diplomatic crisis.

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