Greek, Turkish shipping ministers meet in Athens to resolve commercial boat issue

Greek Shipping and Island Policy Minister Panagiotis Kouroumplis met in Piraeus on Thursday with Turkish Transport, Maritime and Communication Minister Ahmet Arslan to discuss the issue of Turkey’s ban on passengers boats from travelling to Greece.

Turkey banned its own-flagged commercial boats from sailing to the Greek islands as of September 25, after Greek authorities seized Turkish-flagged sailboats that violated international regulations on sailing and passenger safety, environmental protection, and certificates of seaworthiness.

“There is a serious outstanding issue in the classification of certain Turkish boats made of wood as ‘primitive’ when they really are passenger boats for tourists and must follow a series of standards that belong to international regulations,” Kouroumplis said. He added that “there is no intention of creating problems for Turkey in terms of its classification of its flagged ships.”

The boats concerned are less than 24 meters in length.

Both sides agreed that the issue will be discussed at technical level between delegations in the near future, whether in Greece or Turkey.

The Turkish minister said he would brief his government about the changes in the standards, in order to inform the European Commission as well, since the inspections at Greek ports are carried out on the basis of European legislation.