Turkish PM urges Greece to avoid escalating tensions

By Cigdem Alyanak

ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkey’s prime minister on Monday urged Greece to avoid escalating tensions in the wake of another flashpoint incident in the Aegean.

“Our coast guard teams did what was necessary and removed the flag,” Binali Yildirim said, following reports that Greek youths late Sunday tried to plant a flag on an islet near Didim, southwestern Turkey.

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul, Yildirim said Sunday’s incident was similar to events in February over the Kardak islets, in which a Turkish patrol boat rammed into a Greek Coast Guard patrol boat in the Aegean.

In January, the Turkish Coast Guard blocked Greece’s defense minister from approaching Kardak to lay a wreath there.

A decades-long dispute between Turkey and Greece over the uninhabited Aegean islets brought the two countries to the brink of an armed conflict in 1996.