As the purge of now more than 50,000 members of Turkey’s civil and military institutions continues, president Erdogan declared a state of emergency amidst the continuing chaos with Turkish newspaper ‘Hurriyet’ declaring that Turkish fighter aircraft searching for rogue Turkish coast guard vessels had conducted their operation in Greek territorial waters- with Reuters also referring to the same report.
On their end, Greek authorities strenuously denied the claims only confirming that two Turkish F-16s had conducted patrols but said they remained in Turkish air space.
This operation comes amid reports that Turkish military commandos were allegedly trying to cross over to the island of Symi yesterday morning when a group of inflatable dinghies and other vessels were seen departing from Datca, on the Turkish coast.
Amid the confusion in Turkey, the stream of conflicting reports of missing Turkish naval vessels and personnel, have put Greek armed forces in high alert.
Memories of Cyprus invasion
All these developments come at a historically sensitive time for both Greece and Cyprus as it is also the anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
“Greece does not and will never accept the consequences of the Turkish invasion. It has made it clear to all sides that the elimination of the anachronistic system of guarantees and the withdrawal of all Turkish occupation forces – which, as the recent events in Turkey confirmed, undermine rather than ensure constitutional order and democratic normalcy- are an integral part of the solution of the Cyprus problem,” said Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.
The Greek Foreign Minister’s statement received a rebuke from his Turkish counterpart regretting the link between the Cyprus situation to recent events in Turkey referring to them as “ill-intentioned” and “unfortunate,” and encouraged Athens to display good neighbourly relations.
The Turkish reference to ‘’good neighbourly relations’’ of course is at odds with Turkey’s own behaviour towards Greece, and more recently with the remarks of the Turkish ambassador in Greece who threatened there would be consequences for Greece if it did not return the eight Turkish ‘traitor’ soldiers currently seeking asylum in Greece.
“Bilateral relations would be damaged if Greece does not extradite the eight Turkish military personnel. Greece should not have given landing permission to the Turkish helicopter, it should not have even allowed to enter Greek FIR,” said Turkey’s ambassador to Greece, Kerim Uras during a press conference.
The Turkish government’s forceful insistence for their return deliberately ignores the legal and democratic processes that need to be undertaken concerning the asylum application based on international law and human rights.
Democracy on hold
As Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declares a state of emergency, effectively extending the uncertainty surrounding the fate of thousands of Turkish nationals from civil and military institutions, world leaders are expressing their concern over the sheer numbers, over 50,000, of those arrested, suspended or sacked from their positions. The fears are that Erdogan is using the failed military coup as an excuse to remove his political rivals, something the US Secretary of State John Kerry warned could see Turkey expelled from NATO.
“We will measure very carefully what is happening in Turkey. The level of vigilance and scrutiny is obviously going to be significant in the days ahead,” said Kerry.
According to Turkish official news service ‘Anadolu’ the approximate figures of those detained or suspended are as follows:
– 7,500 soldiers have been detained, including 118 generals and admirals
– 8,000 police have been removed from their posts and 1,000 arrested
– 3,000 members of the judiciary, including 1,481 judges, have been suspended
-15,200 education ministry officials have lost their jobs
– 21,000 private school teachers have had their licences revoked
-1,577 university deans (faculty heads) have been asked to resign
-1,500 finance ministry staff have been removed
-492 clerics, preachers and religious teachers have been fired
– 393 social policy ministry staff have been dismissed
– 257 prime minister’s office staff have been removed
– 100 intelligence officials have been suspended
Turkey’s Poor Rating
Following the political chaos that ensued the failed military coup comes the announcement from international rating agency Standard & Poor that it has downgraded Turkey’s main sovereign rating from BB+/B to BB/B effectively “junk” status triggering protestation from the Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci.
“One agency’s “rush” to downgrade Turkey’s credit rating is incomprehensible, and macroeconomic indicators should also be factored into credit rating decisions” protested Zeybekci.
“We believe that macroeconomic indicators should also be factored into credit rating decisions. As always, Turkey will take necessary steps both in the financial sector and the real economy,” he added.