North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief calls on Turkey, Greece to ease tensions

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Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held a phone call yesterday, a source from the Turkish prime minister's office said.

For the second time, a Greek and a Turkish patrol boat collided near a disputed islet group in the Aegean, the Greek navy said Tuesday, as a Turkey-EU row unfolded over Cyprus.

The initial stance of the European Union has been well received in Athens, which says the escalation by Turkey is intentional as, according to government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, Ankara finds itself in a hard position on both the domestic and worldwide fronts."[Turkey] has opened up many fronts at the same time and this has contributed to nervousness and a tendency to increase its provocations", he said, adding that "any move by Turkey will be answered not just by the Greek side but by the European Union and global organizations."Meanwhile, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos told his North Atlantic Treaty Organisation counterparts in Brussels on Wednesday that there is no doubt that Turkey is escalating tension intentionally. 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. A similar incident occurred last month, when the Greek navy said the two vessels' sides "came together".

The Turkish Coastguard blocked Greece's Defence Minister Panos Kammenos on January 28 from approaching a pair of islets in the Aegean, according to the Turkish media.

Coast guard officers warned off Kammenos, who was heading to the Kardak islets in an assault boat to lay a wreath there.

"H stressed the need to immediately put an end to the growing provocative Turkish violations of the Greek islands΄ territorial waters and the airspace in the Aegean and to reduce tension".

A decades-long dispute between Turkey and Greece over the uninhabited Aegean islets brought the two countries to the brink of armed conflict in 1996 and led to renewed tensions this year.

He said that to avoid such incidents, Greece and Turkey should be more careful.