by Aggelos Skordas
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim commenting on the future of the two imprisoned Greek army officers accused Greece for involving the European Union in a bilateral issue. Specifically, on Wednesday during a visit to the self proclaimed “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”, he said that his country’s “justice system will do what it must do” in regards to the decision on the fate of the two Greek servicemen. Moreover, Yildirim did not hide his discomfort for Greece’s plea for support from the European Union in order to achieve their snap release and return.
Greece must regard the incident as “a serious diplomatic issue in order to have conveyed it to the European Union”, Yildirim pointed out adding that lately “it has become a habit [for Greece] to take any issue it has with Turkey to the European Union to ask for its support”, adding that such actions will neither “advance nor deteriorate” the relationship between Ankara and Brussels.
Furthermore, the Turkish Premier called on the Greek authorities to arrest the two supporters of the far-right Golden Dawn seen burning a Turkish flag during a rally in protest at the detention of the second lieutenant and the sergeant, on Monday: “Our flag is our honor. We cannot tolerate any attack on it. We want the Aegean to be a sea of friendship and such provocation does no good.”
It should be noted that Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appealed to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday to mediate for the officers’ immediate release and return.
Greek President Pavlopoulos: Turkey must respect international laws
Visiting the island of Nisyros on the occasion of the 70th anniversary since the integration of the Dodecanese to Greece, President Prokopis Pavlopoulos sent a clear message to Turkey, urging Ankara to respect the international treaties: “Greece wishes the friendship and good neighbourly relations with Turkey and thus supports its [future] membership in the European Union, but respect of the borders includes respect of all international laws, the Lausanne Treaty, the Treaty of Paris and the Law of the Sea.” As he underlined, this is the sole basis on which Greece can build its friendship with Turkey.
Pavlopoulos’ remarks come only hours after Yildirim’s provocative statements on the future of the two Greek officers and new threats against Cyprus offshore gas exploration. As he said during a joint news conference with Tufan Erhurman, the so-called “Prime Minister” of the occupied north of Cyprus, “all kinds of natural riches, hydrocarbon resources around the island of Cyprus are the common wealth of all people living on the island, including both the North and the South. Therefore, unilateral activities around the island are never welcomed by us. Nor does the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ (sic) welcome this”.