Turkey strongly condemned the Greek coastguard on Monday for firing on a Turkish freighter in the Aegean Sea and called it an “disproportionate” act that disregarded the most basic right of human life.
Earlier the captain of the freighter said the Greek coast guard had opened fire on his vessel after he refused an order to dock at a port in the Aegean Sea.
“There is no justification … for firing on an unarmed commercial ship carrying freight between two Turkish ports,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “Our sole consolation is that nobody was killed or injured as a result of the incident.”
Sami Kalkavan, captain of the M/V ACT told broadcaster CNN Turk the coast guard ordered him to dock at the Greek island of Rhodes for inspection, and opened fire after he failed to comply, putting 16 bullet holes in the ship.
“The coast guard asked for the ship to be docked at the port at Rhodes immediately, and we did not accept this. They wanted to check (the ship), and we didn’t accept that,” he said.
“They said they would fire if we didn’t stop, they did what they said,” Kalkavan said without saying why he did not want the ship to be inspected. He said there was no risk of water intake from the bullet holes.
Friction between Turkey and Greece is not uncommon, given territorial disputes and Ankara’s anger with Athens for failing to hand over Turkish soldiers who fled after an abortive coup last year. They came close to war in 1996 over the islets known as Imia in Greek and Kardak in Turkish.
The Greek coast guard said it fired warning shots as it was trying to inspect the ship’s cargo after receiving an anonymous call. The vessel did not cooperate and subsequently moved back to Turkish waters, it said in its statement.
Broadcaster NTV reported that two Turkish coast guard ships were at the scene, and it quoted Turkey’s foreign ministry as saying it was in contact with the relevant authorities.
Kalkavan confirmed the ship, which had set off from Turkey’s southeastern city of Iskenderun near Turkey’s Syrian border, had returned to Turkish waters