A ban on passenger ferries sailing to Greece from Turkey has been abolished as of today, Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan said during a visit to Athens.

Speaking after his meeting with Greek Maritime Minister Panagiyotis Kouroumplis on Oct. 11, Arslan said a delegation from Greece would visit Turkey next week to accelerate the technical process to lift the ongoing ban on wooden boats carry passengers.

He also noted that the ban on commercial yachts shorter than 24 meters would continue to be applied.

In a statement sent to regional port authorities, the Turkish ministry banned the sailing of Turkish-flagged commercial yachts to Greece as of Sept. 25, as well as regular passenger ships as of Oct. 12, citing the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Paris MoU) inspections.

Arslan then said Athens’ measures put Turkey’s position as a “white flag” country at risk, with a potential downgrade to “gray flag” status.

Both sides came together in Athens to negotiate a solution to the problem on Oct. 12.

“Our negotiations were positive. There were two key points: One of them was whether passenger ferries would start to work again as of today. We agreed that these trips were of key importance for our people in terms of tourism and economy, so passenger ferries will recommence their trips as of today. The ban is now lifted for them,” Arslan said, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

He also added that the ban for commercial yachts would continue for the time being.

“To make examinations about wooden boats’ trips for touristic reasons, technical delegations from both sides will come together in Turkey next week. We will complete the required infrastructure works by then. We aim to overcome the problem here as well. We want to restart their trips too,” Arslan said.

The minister stressed that the problem arose because Turkey could not take the risk of losing its “white flag” status.

Source:  Daily Hurriyet

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