Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias sent a letter to top EU diplomat Josep Borrell asking him to take action against what he called Turkey’s illegal fishing activities in Greek waters, the Euractiv news website reported.
A Greek coast guard vessel was attempting to identify three Turkish fishing boats in Greek territorial waters southeast of the Greek island of Farmakonisi but was harassed by a Turkish patrol boat.
According to Athens, this has been a common practice that aims to question Greece’s sovereignty and trigger an incident between the two countries.
“This repeated Turkish practice creates a dangerous security environment and increases the possibility of an ‘accident,’ which could be exploited by Ankara to escalate the tension between Greece and Turkey,” Dendias wrote in his letter.
Greek media reported that Dendias asked Borrell to activate a regulation related to “illegal, unreported and unregulated [IUU] fishing” according to which “if a third country does not comply, it is labelled as ‘non-cooperating’ and fisheries products can be banned from the EU market.”
Such a reaction “will send a resounding message to Ankara and demonstrate in practice the solidarity of the EU towards a member state, which on an almost daily basis faces the questioning of its sovereignty and threats of war,” Dendias said.
Analysts in Athens as well as some in Turkey say that the Turkish government is trying to artificially escalate tensions with Greece ahead of June’s upcoming critical general election.
Recent polls show that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s popularity is diminishing amid a record level of inflation and increasing cost of living in the country. Official statistics showed Turkey’s inflation standing at 64.3 percent in December; however, independent experts say it is in fact over 170 percent.