More ten­sion looms with Ankara

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Turkey in­sisted yes­ter­day that Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras went back on a prom­ise he made to Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan to ex­tra­dite eight ser­vice­men that fled to Greece af­ter the botched coup at­tempt in Turkey in July.

“Not only did he not keep his prom­ise, but, at the same time, he de­ceived us and didn’t rise to the. oc­ca­sion,” a Turk­ish govern­ment source told Kathimerini yes­ter­day, adding that Tsipras had told Er­do­gan in a phone con­ver­sa­tion at the time that the mat­ter would be “taken care of” in 15 to 20 days. The source in­sisted that Athens has not fully grasped the “grav­ity of its er­ror.”

“[Athens] doesn’t com­pre­hend the level of dis­may and bit­ter­ness this cre­ated in Ankara at a time of in­creased hope for a so­lu­tion to the Cyprus prob­lem and progress in Greek-Turk­ish re­la­tions,” the source said. Greece’s Supreme Court had ruled against the ex­tra­di­tion of the eight of­fi­cers to Ankara on the grounds that they wouldn’t re­ceive a fair trial.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Kathimerini’s sources in Ankara, the de­ci­sion will lead to height­ened ten­sion un­til that time when “Athens un­der­stands the sig­nif­i­cance of the is­sue and re­turns the coup plot­ters to Ankara.”

Ten­sions are ex­pected to es­ca­late with re­gard to Ankara’s claims in the Aegean, and the refugee cri­sis, while eco­nomic re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries could also suf­fer. Ankara has al­ready warned that it will scrap a bi­lat­eral deal with Athens for the read­mis­sion of refugees and mi­grants to Turkey and has also be­gun to flex its mus­cles in the Aegean with a show of “hard power,” in the form of a bar­rage of air space vi­o­la­tions and ac­tions fo­cused on the islets of Imia

Mean­while, calls in Turkey are grow­ing for Ankara to pull the plug on var­i­ous bi­lat­eral trade agree­ments.

Mi­grants protest dur­ing a visit by Mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Yan­nis Mouza­las to the Elliniko camp yes­ter­day. Pro­test­ers blocked the en­trance of the site, in a bid to draw at­ten­tion to poor liv­ing con­di­tions at the camp.

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