Turkey accuses Greek military of harassing research ship

The Turkish government has accused Greece’s military of harassing a Turkish research vessel in the Aegean Sea and said Turkey’s military had responded to the alleged intimidation

Four Greek F-16 fighter jets harassed the TCG Cesme west of the Greek island of Lemnos, with one of them dropping a type of flare used to deceive enemy radar 2 nautical miles (3.7 kilometers) from the vessel, Turkish Defense Ministry officials said.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters that Turkey’s military retaliated, but he did not say how. He said the incident took place on Monday.

“It was an act of harassment, which our Greek neighbors carry out frequently,” Akar said. “We gave the necessary response in line with rules.”

Turkey dispatched the TCG Cesme in international waters of the Aegean until March 2 to do hydrographic surveying. Greece had protested the deployment, saying it ran counter to a spirit of renewed dialogue the neighboring nations had established and to Turkey's effort to improve relations with the European Union.

Akar said the vessel was dispatched to conduct “scientific and technical research” concerning earthquakes, which are frequent in the region.

The move came weeks after Greece and Turkey, which are NATO allies, resumed talks aimed at resolving long-standing disputes, including over energy rights.

Turkish and Greek officials met in Istanbul on Jan. 25 to discuss the bilateral disputes after a five-year break. The talks followed months of tensions between Greece and Turkey over conflicting claims to energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean.