A Greek Coast Guard patrol boat’s crew fired warning shots early on Thursday to deter a Turkish coast guard vessel that was trying to ram them in the eastern Aegean Sea, authorities in Athens said.
A Greek Coast Guard statement said that “its vessel was attempting to identify three Turkish fishing vessels in Greek territorial waters southeast of Farmakonisi. A Turkish Coast Guard vessel harassed the Greek Coast Guard vessel, performing dangerous maneuvers with the intent of ramming it.
The Greek crew fired warning shots in a secure sector, and the Turkish Coast Guard vessel withdrew toward the Turkish coast. The coast guard said the shots were fired into the air.
The statement did not make any mention of injuries or damage to either vessel during the incident southeast of the Greek islet of Farmakonissi, which was, according to the Greek Coast Guard, 1.5 nautical miles (1.7 miles) inside Greece’s territorial waters.
History of Greek Coast Guard harassed by Turkish speedboats
It is not the first time that the Greek Coast Guard has been harassed by Turkish patrol boats.
In the latest incident in November 2022, a Greek vessel was harassed near the island of Samos during a search and rescue operation for a migrant boat that capsized.
The incident, which was reportedly recorded on video by an Italian boat of the Frontex EU border agency, occurred during an operation to locate survivors after a ship believed to have been carrying up to fourteen migrants capsized at 3.8 nautical miles south of Samos.
The most serious recent incident occurred in March 2020 when a Greek vessel was rammed by a Turkish speedboat off the island of Kos.
According to a video uploaded on Twitter, the Turkish vessel was seen approaching the Greek boat at a high speed. A Greek officer shouted to the rest of the crew that they had been hit at the stern.
He was heard shouting, “They broke our rails. We are in our [own waters] and they hit us. They damaged our stern.” The video was uploaded by journalist Liana Spyropoulou.
While everyone thinks its calm in the #Aegean because there are no refugee boats arriving in the islands, #Greece ‘s @HCoastGuard is being dangerously harassed by a Turkish vessel.
Exclusive footage obtained by @BILD shows what is really happening away from the media. #Turkey pic.twitter.com/KB2bosbWNO
— Liana Spyropoulou (@LSpyropoulou) March 11, 2020
The Greek vessel eventually managed to return to Kos despite the damage it had sustained.
The most recent incident comes as relations between Greece and Turkey, historic regional rivals and uneasy NATO allies, have been tenser than usual over the past three years.