Greek and Turkish tensions bubble over disputed islets

Turkish army generals enter disputed regions in the Aegean Sea

A visit by Hulusi Akar, the Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces, and other high ranking officers to the disputed islets of Imia (Kardak in Turkish) in the Aegean Sea on Sunday, has raised tensions between Ankara and Athens.

The Aegean Crisis, as it has come to be known, is a long-running dispute between Greece and Turkey on a couple of uninhabited islets that were scenes of military operations and flag-planting by both sides.

The visit came a day after a Greek court decided against extraditing eight soldiers of the Turkish army who fled to Greece after the attempted coup last year. The soldiers are accused of taking part in the coup attempt and are wanted in Turkey for trial. The Turkish government reacted by saying the Greek government had defended the putschists.

The Greek press has reacted to Akar’s visit to the disputed area with headlines like, “Where are the Turks taking this?” with the daily newspaper, Dimokratia, running with: “Enemy at the gates!”

The Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos also weighed in on the actions of the Turkish General saying, “This is a serious infringement. This is not just an infringement of Greece’s borders, but that of Europe’s too. I hope this will not be repeated in the future. Because this will not only have an adverse impact on Greece-Turkey relations, but will also impact Turkey’s relations with the EU.”