Turkish, Greek prime ministers speak over phone

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They discuss recent developments in Aegean Sea

Turkish, Greek prime ministers speak over phone

By Mumin Altas

ERZINCAN, Turkey

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday spoke over the phone and discussed recent developments in the Aegean Sea, a source in the Prime Ministry said.

According to the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on talking to the media, Yildrim said Turkey is distressed by the recent tensions with Greece.

The prime minister said Turkey expects from Greece to take necessary measures to lower the tension in the Aegean Sea, the source added.

The two leaders agreed that, if necessary, it would be useful to bring together the top military officials of the two sides.

Despite the differences between the two countries, the phone conversation was held in a “positive atmosphere”, the source said and added the two leaders focused on solving the problems through dialogue.

According to Greek news agency AMNA, a Turkish patrol boat rammed into a Greek Coast Guard patrol boat near the Kardak islets in the southeastern Aegean last night.

Meanwhile, Hami Aksoy, spokesman for Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “Unfortunately, the Greek side has both misled its public opinion as we are accustomed to, and has distorted the facts, as is always the case.”

“In fact, the Undersecretary of our Ministry has called the Secretary General of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning the incidents caused last night by the Greek Coast Guard boats through their dangerous maneuvers in the vicinity of the Kardak rocks, which are under Turkish sovereignty,” Aksoy said in a statement.

“The Undersecretary has clearly stated that the hostile actions of the Greek military forces are continuing in air and at sea, of which we will not tolerate, and that increasing tension in the Aegean Sea does not serve to the interests of the two countries.”

On Jan. 28, the Turkish Coast Guard blocked Greece’s Defense Minister Panos Kammenos from approaching a pair of Turkish islets in the Aegean.

Coast guard officers warned off Kammenos, who was heading to the Kardak islets in an assault boat to lay a wreath there. Following the warning, the Greek boat left Turkey’s territorial waters.

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

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