FURIOUS Turkish officials have ordered Nato to stop its patrols of the Aegean Sea by the end of the year, insisting the country can patrol the waters itself.
Turkish Defence Minister Firik Isik reiterated his desire for Nato to halt its naval operations during a leaders dinner this week, as the nation wants to hold power over Aegean.
But Nato has shut down Ankara leader Recep Erdogan’s request and stated the operation will continue, escalating tensions between the alliance and Turkey.
Nato Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, said: “The Nato presence provides operational, concrete support to the efforts of the coast guards, the Greek and Turkish coast guards, and to Frontex the European border agency.
“We have seen a very substantial reduction in the numbers of illegal crossings.
“The NATO presence in the Aegean adds value.
“Many of the first sightings have been done by Nato vessels, partly because they are able to operate in both Turkish and Greek territorial waters.”
Despite Nato’s dismissal of Turkey’s demands, Ankara is set to take over the rotating leadership of the Nato maritime group which conducts operations in the Aegean.
But Nato officials hope other allied nations will take up the responsibility of the patrols to stop Erdogan cancelling the operation.