Turkey’s deployment final month of a seismic analysis vessel accompanied by warships within the jap Mediterranean, close to Kastellorizo island, sparked the present disaster with Greece.

Greece on Sunday condemned vandalism to a mural of the Greek flag on Kastellorizo island blamed on Turkish nationals, a day earlier than the arrival within the nation of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The tiny Greek island, simply 2km (1.2 miles) off the Turkish coast, lies in disputed waters which have been a supply of escalating tensions between Turkey and Greece.

At the centre of the newest disaster is Turkey’s deployment final month of a seismic analysis vessel accompanied by warships within the jap Mediterranean, close to Kastellorizo, regardless of repeated protests from Athens and the European Union.

Authorities on the island on Saturday discovered purple paint smeared over a big mural of the Greek flag, painted on a hill close to its port.

“We unequivocally condemn yesterday’s desecration of the Greek flag in Kastellorizo. Unacceptable actions such as these are aimed at undermining the prospects for de-escalation of the tensions between the two countries,” the Greek international ministry mentioned in a press release.

“We expect the immediate condemnation and the prompt investigation of the incident by the Turkish authorities, so that the perpetrators be brought to justice.”

There have been additionally stories of a drone flying over the island Saturday taking part in Turkish anthems.

The Turkish community Karar TV confirmed video footage from a drone of the defaced portray, whereas Greek media reported the community attributed the vandalism to “Turkish engineers” who had thrown “100 kilos of red paint on the Greek flag”.

‘Positive first step’

On August 10, Turkish navy ships escorted an exploration vessel into the waters south off Kastellorizo.

Four days earlier, Athens enraged Ankara after signing an settlement with Cairo on their respective maritime financial zones, claiming the waters across the island are below Greek sovereignty.

Under stress from European and NATO allies, Turkey pulled again the analysis ship in a transfer hailed as a “positive first step” by the Greek prime minister.

The tone has just lately softened with Greece and Turkey, each NATO members, agreeing to start exploratory talks over the dispute.

US Secretary of State Pompeo is due to go to Greece on Monday in a powerful signal of help. A US official mentioned he would focus on constructing relations with Greece but additionally provide help for diplomacy with Turkey.

Pompeo had a dialog on Sunday on tensions within the jap Mediterranean with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

“Pleased to speak today with @NATO Secretary General @jensstoltenberg to discuss de-escalation of the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and reiterate the importance of NATO Alliance unity,” Pompeo tweeted whereas en route to Greece.

Relations between NATO members Greece and Turkey, at all times tense, have additional deteriorated this yr over long-standing disputes, together with maritime boundaries and vitality rights. France has been vocal in its help for Greece and the latter’s name for European Union sanctions.

Turkey’s deployment final month of a seismic analysis vessel accompanied by warships within the jap Mediterranean, close to Kastellorizo island, sparked the present disaster with Greece.A Greek frigate takes half in a army train within the jap Mediterranean Sea in August [Greek defence ministry via AFP]

Pompeo is on the primary leg of a five-day journey to Europe, which incorporates visits to Italy, the Vatican and Croatia. It is the primary go to by a US secretary of state to Thessaloniki.

According to State Department background briefings, Pompeo will meet with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias to renew the 2 international locations’ shared dedication to advance safety, peace, and prosperity within the jap Mediterranean and rejoice the strongest US-Greek relationship in a long time.

On Monday, Pompeo will meet with Dendias, signal a bilateral science and expertise settlement, in addition to host vitality sector enterprise leaders for a dialogue to spotlight vitality diversification and infrastructure tasks in Greece. He may also be part of members of town’s Jewish group to commemorate Yom Kippur.

Pompeo will depart later Monday to go to the NATO Souda Bay naval base. He will tour the amenities Tuesday and have lunch with Mitsotakis on the latter’s close by residence. The two will difficulty a joint assertion.

The US secretary of state will depart Greece early Wednesday for Rome.