The Latest: Greece says Turkish coast guard rams Greek boat
ANKARA, Turkey – The Latest on tensions in the Mediterranean (all times local):
Greek authorities say a Turkish coast guard patrol vessel has rammed a Greek coast guard boat near a pair of Aegean Sea islets over which the two countries came close to war in 1996.
The coast guard says nobody was injured, although the Greek vessel suffered damage to the stern where the Turkish boat hit it with its bows. It says the precise circumstances of the incident, which occurred around midnight Monday, are unclear.
The vessels were off the uninhabited Imia — Kardak in Turkish — islets, which both countries claim.
Tension in the area remains high since the two NATO allies came to the brink of war over the islets, deploying their navies to the spot, and a Greek helicopter crashed into the sea killing three crewmen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued a warning to Greece, Cyprus and international companies exploring for gas in the Mediterranean not to "step out of line" and encroach on Turkey's rights.
Erdogan made the warning on Tuesday in an address to legislators of his ruling party as Turkish warships continued to impede a rig from reaching a location off Cyprus where Italian energy company Eni is scheduled to drill for gas.
Turkey opposes the oil drilling, saying it disregards the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots. Many in Turkey also accuse Greece of laying claims on uninhabited islets near Turkey's Aegean coastline.
"Opportunistic attempts concerning gas exploration off Cyprus and concerning Aegean islets are not escaping our attentions," Erdogan said. "We are warning those who step out of line with miscalculations in Cyprus and the Aegean.