Greeks troops have reportedly fired warning shots, after a Turkish helicopter flew at low altitude around the perimeter of the Greek islet of Ro.
Situated west of Kastellorizo just a few miles off the Turkish coast, the incident took place on Monday at approximately 11.30 pm. According to reports the helicopter, said to have been operated by the Turkish coastguard, was deterred by the tracer rounds shot in its direction.
Flying with its navigation lights switched off, the Greek government has seen the act as a deliberate provocation from Turkey.
Defence Minister Panos Kammenos was in constant contact with the head of the General Army Command (GES) and the chief of Hellenic Armed Forces General Staff (GEETHA) throughout the incident, reports Kathimerini.
The Defence Ministry said that the troops’ conduct adhered to the international rules of engagement, and that Greece continues to refrain from being provocative towards its neighbours, and is simply responding within its capacity to do so.
“The order to fire the warning shots to force the helicopter to move off came in the context of stepped up surveillance and reaction measures adopted given the increase in tensions with Turkey,” a Greek military source told AFP.
However the Ministry came under fire on Tuesday by New Democracy’s Shadow Defence Minister, Vassilis Kikilias who took to Twitter to express his concern over its failure to provide adequate and prompt details about the incident.
“Early in the morning, all media reported an episode on the islet of Ro, which, according to their information, took place shortly after 11 pm. It is inconceivable that 12 hours have elapsed and the National Defence Ministry has not yet informed the public of what has happened,” he tweeted.
The incident comes amid months of growing friction between the neighbouring countries, and Mr Kammenos’ announcement last week that Greece would be posting 7,000 military troops to its borders with Turkey, including Evros and the Aegean islands.