Turkey gives 'ludicrous' excuses for detaining senior Greek, EU official

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Central Macedonia regional governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas described as ludicrous the explanations from Turkey that his detainment in Izmir (Smyrna) was a matter of mistaken identity.

Notably Tzitzikostas is also a senior European Union official as he was visiting Turkey to co-chair the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly conference in his capacity as the President of the European Committee of the Regions, a position he has held since 2020.

In his statements to journalists, Tzitzikostas pointed out: "I cannot know what the Turks were thinking. But I can tell you that this act was an act of extreme provocation towards not only a Greek official but also a European official because I was there in my European capacity."

"The Turkish authorities checked my identity, my passport and all my diplomatic European documents. They have absolutely no excuse, because 6-7 hours passed from the time, they thoroughly checked my documents until the time when it was announced that the ban on my entry to Turkey would be lifted."

He explained that during this period he was at a customs office in the port of Smyrna and on the ship. Regarding the attitude of the Turkish authorities during this incident, he pointed out that although it was not provocative, "it was clear that the entry of a Greek European citizen and official into the country was banned."

In any case, he said that as soon as the Turkish authorities informed him that there is a ban on his entry into Turkey, he decided to return to Greece.

Tzitzikostas and his colleagues returned to Greece with a government aircraft, which carried Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias to Greece on his return flight from the United Arab Emirates.

"We reacted from the first moment to the abusive detention of Central Macedonia local governor, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, and to the unacceptable entry ban by the Turkish authorities, and mobilized to provide assistance," Dendias posted on Twitter.

As the regional governor said, "just before 01:00 last night, we landed at Elefsina airport together with our friend Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias."

"Thank you once again for your love and support," he added in a post on twitter.