Greece Denies ‘Provocative’ Flag Claim by Turkish PM



Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos

Greece has described as “provocative” claims by Turkey’s prime minister that its forces removed a Greek flag from an Aegean islet, saying there had been no violation of Greek territory.

Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos told reporters on Monday that defense ministry information about the alleged incident at Androfotos (Anthropofagoi) indicated no Turkish incursion.

Earlier reports claimed Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said his country’s coast guard removed a Greek flag from the islet, whose sovereignty is disputed by Ankara.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported Yildirim as saying: “Our coast guard teams did what was necessary and removed the flag.”  Yildirim also claimed that the incident is similar to what happened during the crisis at Imia in 1996 when the two NATO allies almost went to war.

The flag on Androfotos had been erected by a group of Greeks from the nearby island of Fourni.

Tzanakopoulos said Athens would “continue the investigation with seriousness and cool headedness”.

However, he added: “I must say that Mr. Yildirim’s statement was extremely provocative … Greece will not accept the theory of ‘grey zones’ or any issue of territorial sovereignty”.