ATHENS – Some 28 years after their helicopter crashed mysteriously during a near-conflict with Turkey over who owned the isolated rocky islet of Imia, three Greek Navy officers were remembered in a tribute by 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 the defense of our national interests, always guided by international law and the international law of the sea,” he said on the date of the crash that killed Christodoulos Karathanasis, Panagiotis Vlahakos, and Ektoras Gialopsos, with speculation their craft was shot down and the incident covered up to prevent a war. The details remain cloudy to this day.
They had taken off from a Greek frigate to do reconnaissance over Imia and uninhabited islets where both Greek and Turkish Special Forces had landed and fears built that a clash was imminent.
After the crash, the United States quickly intervened and got both sides to back off but the dispute lingers over who rightfully owns the islets that Greece said were ceded during the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne that Turkey still doesn’t accept.