Souda Bay: Divers Pictured with Turkish Flag during NATO Exercise

Divers of the Turkish Navy took pictures holding the Turkish flag at the bottom of the Souda Bay in Crete. The incident took place within Greek territorial waters within the context of a NATO exercise.

The military drill codenamed Ariadne 19 was hosted by Greece as part of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG-2). The drill currently takes place from 14 March and is expected to last until 21 March. Within the exercise’s context warships from NATO member-states arrived at the Souda Bay. Most of them remained at Souda Bay until the end of the first round of the exercise, on 17 March.

The Incident

Of the docked vessels, a Turkish minehunter TCG Akcakoca also participated in the Ariadne 19 drill to educate its crew on mine clearance operations and disposal of explosive items. The Turkish divers participating in the drill originated from Turkish Special Forces (SAS) found the opportunity during one of their dives at the bottom of the Souda Bay, and they were pictured holding the Turkish flag.

Social Media Provocations

The post uploaded to social media by the Turkish Ministry of Defence was also retweeted by the NATO’s Maritime Command official Twitter profile. Upon intervention by Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Apostolakis and the Hellenic Navy, the retweet was deleted some minutes later from the official NATO profile in Twitter platform.

NATO officials search the user who retweeted the Turkish Ministry’s post in the official NATO Maritime Command profile. So far the instigator has yet to be found. Such provocations are typical by the side of Turkey towards Greece. The problem in this particular case was the retweet by the official NATO organisation profile, which appears to be partial endorsement of the actual post. Fortunately, the post’s prompt removal eventually restated distorted truths and sent a strong message to the neighbouring country over its inappropriate postings.

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