Turkish media on Sunday claimed Greece’s defense minister was “blocked” from approaching the Aegean islet of Imia.
State-run Anadolu Agency ran a flash at noon local time (1000GMT) claiming an “assault boat” carrying Panos Kammenos “was blocked from approaching Kardak [Imia] islet in the Aegean Sea to lay [a] wreath there”.
The minister and Greek Admiral Nicholas Tsounis Navy were onboard the naval vessel Nikiforos for the wreath-laying ceremony to remember three military personnel who died in a helicopter crash during the 1996 Imia crisis with Turkey: Christodoulos Karathanasis, Panagiotis Vlahakos and Ektoras Gialopsos.
Imia in 1996 was the scene of a tense standoff between Athens and Ankara which almost lead to a full-scale war between the two NATO allies over sovereignty issues in the Aegean.
According to a Greek Defense Ministry statement later, which made no mention of the presence of Turkish ships in the area, Kammenos thanked the crew of the Nikiforos, saying they were “excellent not only in displaying the [Greek] flag but also in defending our national sovereignty and our territorial integrity”.
On the nearby Greek island of Kalymnos there was a religious service for the three officers who died.