Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has confirmed that his country’s coast guard has taken down a Greek flag on an islet in the eastern Aegean, whose sovereignty is disputed by Ankara.
Speaking in Istanbul, Yildirim said that Turkey “will not tolerate the escalation of tensions from neighboring Greece”.
On Friday a group of Greeks sailed from the island of Fourni and raised the Greek flag on the islet of Androfotos (Anthropofagoi).
Local site samos24.gr had reported that three Greeks arrived with a boat at Androfotos and raised the Greek flag on the highest point of the uninhabited islet. There was also a few photos of their mission.
“The Coast Guard made the necessary intervention and took down the flag from there. We recommend that Greece, in the context of good neighborliness, stay away from challenges that will increase tension,” Yildirim said.
The sovereignty of the islet is contested by Turkey.
Yildirim 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.
Then, four Greeks from the neighboring island of Kalymnos, including the mayor and the owner of a herd of sheep that remained on the islets, hoisted a Greek flag Imia.