Athens, Greece – Turkey says Greek jets harass research vessel over Aegean Sea. Turkey said that four Greek jets harassed a Turkish research vessel in the Aegean Sea but Athens denied the accusation, which comes as the two NATO members seek to resume talks over maritime disputes.

The Cesme research vessel started survey work last week in international waters between the two countries, prompting Greece to protest.

The Turkish defence ministry said the four Greek F-16s approached the Cesme and one dropped a chaff flare two nautical miles from the vessel.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkey responded with the “necessary retaliation… in line with the rules”. “While we are carrying out scientific work, harassment is not appropriate, it is not befitting of good neighbourly ties,” he told reporters in parliament.

Greece denied the accusations, saying “Greek jets never harassed the Turkish vessel.” Greece rejects Turkey’s ‘harassment’ claims in the Aegean Sea.

Greece has rejected claims by Turkey that Greece’s military harassed Turkish research vessel Cesme in the Aegean Sea.

Greece said that the Hellenic Air Force carried out an exercise involving 29 aircraft in the central Aegean Sea.

Greece said an air space notice, or Notam, designating the area was issued on February 9, 2021, five days before Turkey’s navigational warning (Navtex).

Greece said the Greek jets took off around 1.30 p.m. and wrapped up the drill at 2.40 p.m. They were not carrying chaff or flares.

More specifically, the exercise was carried out between the islands of Agios Efstratios and Kyra Panagia and to the south near Psara. Throughout the exercise, the TCG Cesme was sailing in the sea area west of Limnos island.

Greece said the closest the Greek plane came to Cesme was 10 nautical miles. It was flying at 19,000 feet.

After a five-year hiatus, Turkish and Greek officials met on January 25,2021 to discuss a decades-old dispute over the delimitation of maritime zones and rights to energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean. The allies have agreed to meet again in Athens.

Greece said it has sent an invitation to Turkey suggesting the talks resume in early March 2021, ahead of an EU summit. Turkey has said it wants to continue talks and improve ties with the EU, which backs Greece in the dispute.