by Aggelos Skordas
The Greek armed forces will remain on high alert at least until the end of April as Defense Ministry officials expect Ankara to escalate tension in the Aegean, large areas of which have been engaged for Turkish military exercises.
Among the reasons that increase Athens’ concerns regarding a possible “hot” incident with the neighbouring country is the upcoming release of the eight Turkish officers who have applied for asylum in Greece after their alleged involvement in the failed coup of July 2016 and are to be released within April, as according to the Greek law they have completed 18 months in remand.
As Greek in.gr indicates, citing unnamed government sources, Turkey will further escalate tension in the Aegean, before and after the Orthodox Easter, amidst the beginning of the tourist season for Greece. The same sources said that even a “hot” incident or an “Imia 2” rupture could not be ruled out in order to deal a blow to Greek tourism and at the same time assist Ankara to table issues considered “taboo” for the Greek side, such as the “gray” zones in the Aegean or the sovereign rights of Cyprus on hydrocarbon deposits.
Additionally, Turkish press insist to link the case of the eight servicemen who fled Turkey after the failed coup attempt with the two Greek officers currently held for 30 days in Edirne after unintentionally crossing the Greco-Turkish borders. On Thursday a first-instance district court in Edirne rejected a petition for the release of two referring the case to the second-instance district court that had ordered their detention.
These scenarios, actually, were fuelled by the MP of the junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) Costas Katsikis who suggested that the leaderships of the two countries could conclude to an exchange of the servicemen. His remarks sparked fury even within the Greek government alliance, with numerous MPs accusing him for idiotically promoting the Turkish arguments.