BRUSSELS (ANA/ M. Aroni) The European Commission is closely monitoring the situation in the Aegean, Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said on Tuesday, while warning Turkey of the need to respect the sovereignty of EU member-states. Schinas was commenting on an incident involving two vessels of the Greek and Turkish coast guards near the Imia islets earlier on Tuesday, as well as statements made by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"On the incident that you are mentioning in the Aegean, we are following this development closely.... we reiterate the need for Turkey to commit unequivocally to good neighbourly relations and avoid any kind of source of friction or action directed against member-states, which damages good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes," Schinas said.
"We also would like to stress the need to respect the sovereignty of member-states over their territorial sea and airspace, and we'd also like to say that negative statements that damage good neighbourly relations should be avoided," the spokesman added.
Replying to questions about the incident, in which a Greek coast guard vessel was rammed and badly damaged by a Turkish patrol boat in the vicinity of the Imia islets, Schinas reported that the recent tensions in the Aegean were discussed by the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini in a meeting with the Turkish foreign minister, on the margins of the Kuwait summit on Iraq financing.
He also confirmed that the Greek vessel involved in the incident had been co-financed by the European border and coast guard.
"I think that this is another compelling reason that reinforces my statement because the EU taxpayer contributes to the effective policing of the external border of the EU," he added.