ATHENS — Some 28 years after their helicopter mysteriously crashed during a near-dispute with Turkey over the owner of the isolated rocky islet of Imia, three Greek naval officers have been commemorated in a tribute from the Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.
“We will not forget (the officers) who died in the line of duty,” Dendias said in a tweet on the anniversary of the incident.
“We remain vigilant in defending our national interests, always guided by international law and the international law of the sea,” he said on the date of the accident that killed Christodoulos Karathanasis, Panagiotis Vlahakos and Ektoras Gialopsos, with speculation about their craft was shot and the incident covered up to prevent a war. Details remain unclear to this day.
They had taken off from a Greek frigate to conduct reconnaissance over Imia and uninhabited islets where Greek and Turkish special forces had landed and feared a clash was imminent.
After the crash, the United States quickly intervened and pushed both sides back, but the dispute persists over who rightfully owns the islets that Greece says were ceded in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne that Turkey still do not accept.