Re­ports of com­man­dos in Aegean fuel con­cern

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Re­ports that a group of Turk­ish mil­i­tary com­man­dos tried to cross from Turkey to the is­land of Symi, in the south­east­ern Aegean, put the Greek armed forces on alert yes­ter­day amid fears that ties be­tween Greece and Turkey could be tested in the wake of a failed coup in the neigh­bor­ing coun­try.

The Greek Coast Guard was on alert from around 11 a.m. when a group of in­flat­able dinghies and other ves­sels were seen depart­ing from Datca, on the Turk­ish coast, in the di­rec­tion of Symi.

Confused in­tel­li­gence re­ferred to the pres­ence of around 20 Turk­ish com­man­dos on those ves­sels. Athens had been an­tic­i­pat­ing a pos­si­ble at­tempt by par­tic­i­pants in the failed coup to come to Greece and so took the re­ports se­ri­ously.

Later in the day, cit­ing Turk­ish mil­i­tary of­fi­cials, Reuters re­ported that Turk­ish F-16 fighter jets were scram­bled to check re­ports that miss­ing Turk­ish coast guard ves­sels had ap­peared in Greek wa­ters in the Aegean. Some Turk­ish mil­i­tary hard­ware was stolen and used in the failed coup but Turk­ish gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials have in­sisted that no mil­i­tary equip­ment re­mains un­ac­counted for. Later yes­ter­day, the Turk­ish in­te­rior min­istry de­nied claims that rebel sol­diers might have “hi­jacked” a ves­sel to flee to Greece, Reuters re­ported.

Sources of the Hel­lenic Air Force con­firmed that two Turk­ish F-16s had con­ducted pa­trols but they said they re­mained in Turk­ish air space.

The Greek Coast Guard mon­i­tored the move­ments of the Turk­ish ves­sels, which re­mained in Turk­ish wa­ters. Also, a con­tin­gent of the Greek Po­lice was dis­patched to Symi to con­duct checks there.

The de­vel­op­ments came af­ter a state­ment by For­eign Min­is­ter Nikos Kotzias on the an­niver­sary of the Turk­ish oc­cu­pa­tion of Cyprus prompted a terse re­ac­tion by Ankara. “Greece does not and will never ac­cept the con­se­quences of the Turk­ish in­va­sion,” Kotzias said. “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.”

The Turk­ish For­eign Min­istry re­sponded that link­ing the Cyprus sit­u­a­tion to re­cent events in Turkey was “ill-intentioned” and “un­for­tu­nate,” and called on Athens to avoid try­ing to ben­e­fit from the events and to dis­play good neigh­borly be­hav­ior.

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