NATO chief calls on Turkey, Greece to ease tensions

The secretary general of NATO on Thursday called on Turkey and Greece to ease tensions in the Aegean Sea.

Speaking at a news conference, following the NATO Defense Ministers meeting in Brussels, Jens Stoltenberg said: "I welcome the fact the two prime ministers spoke on the phone and I urge for talks to continue in order to avoid such incidents in the future, reduce tensions and avoid new escalation."

Stoltenberg added that he has spoken to defense ministers of both countries regarding the issue.

"We want to do our utmost to avoid real problems and the escalation of conflict and tension between them," he said.

According to Greek news agency AMNA, a Turkish patrol boat rammed into a Greek Coast Guard patrol boat near the Kardak islets in the southeastern Aegean on Monday.

On Jan. 28, the Turkish Coast Guard blocked Greece's Defense Minister Panos Kammenos from approaching a pair of Turkish islets in the Aegean.

Coast guard officers warned off Kammenos, who was heading to the Kardak islets in an assault boat to lay a wreath there. Following the warning, the Greek boat left Turkey's territorial waters.

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.

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