Greece to raise Turkish tensions with EU - report
22 March 2018
Tsipras will also complain about a spike in Turkish aggression in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, the newspaper said .
The Greek prime minister is expected to ask EU politicians to exert pressure on Turkish authorities to secure the speedy release of the two soldiers, who have been in Turkish custody since accidentally crossing the border in bad weather on March 1, Ekathimerini said.
Tsipras will also highlight a recent increase in hostile rhetoric by Turkish politicians over sovereign Greek islands.
On Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu repeated Ankara’s assertion that the status of certain “islands and islets” remains “undetermined.”
Tsipras is expected to coordinate with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, who will broach the issue of Turkey violating Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone and challenging its right to drill for hydrocarbons off the island’s coast, the newspaper said. Source
'Greek provocations rise due to Turkish victory in Afrin'' - pro-gov't daily
18 March 2018
The new strategy of those ‘powers’ is “to escalate tensions in the Aegean over Greece,” claims the newspaper.
“The names behind Greece’s aggression are usual suspects,” says Yeni Şafak, naming the U.S., United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Italy, and Israel.
To increase tension, Greece allegedly violates Turkish territorial waters frequently, while trying to harass Turkish military aircrafts. Yeni Şafak also claims that Greece is increasing the number of Joint Standoff Weapons (J-SOWs) in its inventory.
The relations between Turkey and Greece have strained recently after two Greek soldiers were arrested in Turkey. Moreover, Greek Courts have rejected Turkey’s demands the extradition of eight Turkish servicemen who fled to Greece after the coup attempt in Turkey in 2016 and sought asylum, as well as nine suspected Turkish militants arrested in Athens ahead of an official visit by Turkey’s president late last year.
The natural gas resources of Cyprus and Turkey’s attempts to prevent offshore gas drilling around the island also mounts tensions. Source
Athens is concerned of a protracted crisis between Turkey and Greece
18 March 2018
“Athens fears that Ankara is intent on escalating tensions further,” claimed Greek Kathimerini on Sunday.
“Greece fears that Turkey is deliberately slowing the pace of the legal procedure for two arrested soldiers so that it can use their release as a bargaining chip and force the government into negotiations over other issues as well,” it added.
According to Ekathimerini, Athens, Washington, Brussels and other EU capitals are convinced that “Turkey is resorting to a strategy that includes the arrest of people as a means of blackmail, especially of Western countries”.
Consequently, the Greek government suspects that Turkey may use those two soldiers as a bargaining chip for the extradition of eight Turkish servicemen who fled to Greece after the coup attempt in Turkey in 2016 and sought asylum.
Greek Supreme Court has rejected Turkey’s demands for extradition on the grounds that this may put the lives of those people in danger and that their rights might be violated. Source
Greek court rejects Turkey’s extradition request
14 March 2018
The court rejected the request on the grounds that Halaz Secer’s life could be in danger if returned to Turkey. The court also ruled that some of the offenses against Sever, including participating in protests and making banners, were not crimes.
Secer was allegedly linked to the left-wing Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, which Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider a terrorist organisation.
The Greek Court of Appeals has also ruled the same way for two additional members of the same organisation within the last month. No decision has yet been made about the six remaining members of the group.
Greece has also rejected the extradition of eight soldiers allegedly linked to the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Source
Greece prepares military exercise near Turkish resort town
All four exercises will cover areas that include stretches of the Turkish maritime border, the newspaper said.
The move comes after Turkey prevented Republic of Cyprus from exploring for gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean Sea through hosting its own military exercises in the area.
Turkey is likely to attempt to prevent the military exercises getting too close to the Turkish coastline by posting warships close by, Cumhuriyet said. Source
Protests against Turkey’s detention of Greek soldiers
The pair, Sgt Dimitris Kouklatzis, 27, and Lt Angelos Mitretodis, 25 were arrested at the beginning of this month after reportedly being found in a “forbidden military zone” in Turkish territory. The soldiers say they strayed across the border after becoming lost in bad weather.
Greek police said more than 3,000 people joined the protest in the town of Orestiada near the Turkish border.
“We want to send the message that we live in peace and harmony with our neighbours in this area,” protesters told the Guardian newspaper.
The arrest of the soldiers has further strained ties between the two countries that are already tense due to issues including natural gas exploration in the Mediterranean and disputes over the ownership of islets in the Aegean
Referring to the soldiers’ detention, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey was still trying to establish whether the soldiers entered Turkey deliberately, increasing Greek fears the pair could be charged with espionage.
Panos Kammenos, Greece’s defence minister, has described the pair as “hostages” amid suspicions that Turkey deliberately snatched them to use as bargaining chips. Greece has angered Turkey by refusing to extradite eight Turkish officers who sought political asylum there following Turkey’s coup attempt in 2016.
The Greek government raised the case with both NATO and the United Nations last week, asking them to intervene to secure the soldiers release. Source
Greeks slow to read Ankara’s Aegean intentions
Greece and Cyprus have failed to respond effectively to Turkey’s latest aggressive manoeuvres in the Aegean, journalist Notis Papadopoulis wrote in the Greek newspaper Kathimerini.
Ankara has for months successfully stalled Greek Cypriot attempts to explore for gas in the eastern Mediterranean, whilst at the same time ramping up its rhetoric and actions regarding disputed islets off Turkey’s Aegean coast, where Turkish warplanes have been violating Greek airspace with increasing regularity, the newspaper said.
The Turkish navy intervened in January to prevent the Greek defence minister from laying a wreath in memory of Greek sailors who died in 1996 during an earlier crisis over the islets. More recently, at the beginning of the month, two Greek soldiers were arrested in Turkey after having stumbled across the border in bad weather.
All of this comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan set alarm bells ringing during a visit to Athens in December by questioning the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne that delineates borders between the two countries.
Such events show that Turkey has upped its claims in the Aegean.
But Greece has not been quick in recognising Ankara’s revised intentions. The Greeks must expect Erdoğan, given his track record, to treat them with “pure disregard”, says Papadopoulis. To respond effectively Greece “must engage in a thorough diplomatic campaign reaching out to all allied governments, using evidence to expose Turkey’s big bully attitude and its ulterior motives”. Source
Turkey demands Greece arrest flag-burners – report
"We strongly condemn the burning of our flag during a rally against Turkey organized by a racist political party in Athens on March 5”, the foreign ministry said in a written statement, according to state-run Anadolu news agency.
"We demand that the Greek authorities arrest the perpetrators, who committed this heinous act against our flag, and bring them to justice as soon as possible.”
Political and military tensions between Greece and Turkey have increased in recent months after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the re-negotiation of the two countries’ borders and a Turkish patrol boat hit a Greek coastguard vessel in the Aegean. Turkey is also holding two Greek soldiers on espionage charges after they crossed its border. A Turkish court refused their release on Monday. Greece has also failed to hand over Turkish soldiers suspected of involvement in the July 2016 failed coup.
Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy also criticised statements regarding Turkey and its territorial integrity by Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos, Anadolu said.
“We invite President Pavlopoulos to respect international law and our borders, and to refrain from a rhetoric which is not befitting his position, and that could cause unnecessary tension,” Aksoy said.
On Tuesday, the Greek press reported Pavlopoulos as saying: "We might not have the territory that we should have had historically… If history compels us, we will do what our ancestors had done”, Anadolu said. Source
Greece to play down arrested soldiers – newspaper
Quoting the Greek media group Skai, Kathimerini’s article on Tuesday said that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and government officials had met at the Maximos Mansion in Athens on Monday, and agreed that they should avoid escalating the situation into a major diplomatic affair.
The government will wait to evaluate their position according to the Turkish judiciary’s decisions on the case before responding, Kathimerini reported.
Meanwhile, a Turkish national of Kurdish origin has been returned to detention in a Greek prison after a court rejected Turkey’s request for his extradition.
The detainee, Naci Özpolat, was one of nine arrested by Greek intelligence last November in advance of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit in December. The nine have been charged with “setting up and belonging to a criminal organization, terrorist-related acts of supplying explosive materials, and with illegal possession of firearms, smoke bombs and firecrackers,” according to Kathimerini’s report.
Turkey accused Özpolat of links to the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C), a radical Marxist-Leninist organisation that is classed a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. Source
Turkey urges Greek president to refrain from making inflammatory remarks
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy issued two separate written statements early March 7 expressing Ankara’s disturbance over recent developments in Greece.
Aksoy recalled that the Greek press quoted Pavlopoulos as saying: “We might not have the territory that we should have had historically,” and “If history compels us, we will do what our ancestors had done.”
“We invite President Pavlopoulos to respect international law and our borders, and to refrain from a rhetoric which is not befitting his position, that could cause unnecessary tension,” Aksoy said in response to the Greek president’s comments.
In a separate statement, Aksoy said a Turkish flag was burned during a rally in Athens.
“We strongly condemn the burning of our flag during a rally against Turkey organized by a racist political party in Athens on March 5,” he stressed.
“We demand the Greek authorities arrest the perpetrators who committed this heinous act against our flag and bring them to justice as soon as possible,” he added.
The move comes at a time the Greek government is urging the U.N., NATO and the European Union to put pressure on Turkey for the release of two of its soldiers who were detained on March 2 after they strayed into Turkey. Source
Greece rejects Turkey’s extradition request for DHKP-C suspect
6 March 2018
Greece’s appeals court in Athens rejected the extradition request for DHKP-C member Şadi Naci Özpolat.
The same court ruled on Feb. 2 in line with prosecutors’ suggestion, denying Ankara’s extradition request for Mehmet Doğan, another member sought, on grounds that he was recognized as a “political refugee” by French authorities.
Doğan was arrested last November in Athens along with eight more Turkish nationals, including Özpolat, and was accused of forming and participating in a terrorist organization and possessing explosives and weapons unlawfully, among other charges.
Ankara has requested the extradition of at least two of the accused.
Greece seeks EU, NATO help over soldiers detained in Turkey
Greece’s defense minister said he has complained to the European Union and NATO following the detention of two Greek soldiers in Turkey after they strayed across the border during a patrol last week.
Panos Kammenos said the two men, a lieutenant and a sergeant, were arrested a “few meters” inside Turkish territory while on a patrol against migrant smuggling. He made the remarks in Brussels on March 6 while attending a meeting of EU defense ministers.
A Turkish court in the border city of Edirne rejected a request for their provisional release.
The incident has further strained relations between the two NATO allies who have longstanding disputes over maritime boundaries and commercial rights. Source
2 Greek officers arrested for espionage after straying across Turkish border
Two Greek soldiers who crossed into Turkey captured: State media