Greece’s Foreign Affairs Ministry submitted a strong demarche to Iran’s ambassador in Athens concerning the “violent seizure” of two Greek-flagged ships by Iranian naval forces in the Persian Gulf on Friday.
This was carried out by the ministry’s General Secretary Themistoklis Demiris by order of minister Nikos Dendias.
Describing the incident, the Greek ministry said that an Iranian navy helicopter landed on the Greek-flagged ship “Delta Poseidon,” which was sailing in international waters 22 nautical miles off the coast of Iran. Armed men then captured the ship’s crew, including two Greek citizens.
Greece says that Iran’s seizure of ships was piracy
“These acts are equal to piracy,” noted the Greek ministry in its announcement, adding that Demiris condemned them as violating fundamental principles of International Law and International Navigation and called for the immediate release of the ships and their crews.
Demiris also said that these acts will be particularly detrimental to bilateral relations, as well as to EU-Iran relations.
“A similar incident reportedly took place on another Greek-flagged ship that was sailing near the Iranian coast with seven Greek nationals on board” on Friday, added the statement.
“Greece has already notified both the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), as well as allies and partners about the maritime incident,” noted the ministry while issuing a recommendation to people in Greece to avoid traveling to Iran for the time being.
It was also noted that the Greek-flagged ships are now required to follow the instructions of the Greek Ministry of Shipping & Island Policy with which the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in close coordination and constant communication.
Growing dispute between Greece and Iran
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) said in a statement on their official website on Friday that they seized two Greek oil tankers in the Arabian Gulf “due to violations that were committed.” The statement did not elaborate on what those “violations” were.
The move came amid a dispute between the two nations about the fate of Iranian oil cargo on board a Russian-flagged tanker that was seized in Greece in April.
On Wednesday, Greece said it would send 115,000 tons of Iranian oil from the tanker seized in April to the United States at the request of the US Treasury, which oversees the enforcement of sanctions on Iran.
Iran’s foreign ministry demanded earlier on Friday that Greece release the vessel, saying the planned transfer of its cargo to the US was a “clear violation” of international law.
Athens has linked the tanker seizure in Greece to sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in February.