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Ankara: Issue of Turkish officers a thorn in relations

TAGS: Turkey, Diplomacy

Turkey has escalated its rhetoric with regard to the eight Turkish servicemen it wants extradited, insisting that the issue will remain at the core of its differences with Greece.

The servicemen, who Ankara wants to put on trial for their alleged role in the 2016 coup attempt, were released from custody by a Greek court last week.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag accused Greece again on Monday of protecting “terrorists,” insisting this will impact all aspects of Greek-Turkish relations.

He went on to assert that Greece is trying to glean Turkish military secrets from the servicemen, whom he denounced as lacking any notion of patriotism.

With attacks against Greece featuring prominently in the runup to the June 24 Turkish elections, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahceli, raised the ante a notch by mocking the reaction in Greece to a campaign video of his party which depicted Cyprus as belonging to Turkey.

“Why are they [Greece] upset? How else could we have depicted [Cyprus]. I say again and stress that Cyprus is Turkish. It’s a Turkish homeland and it will remain Turkish,” he said and warned Greece not to play “games” in the Aegean and not to forget what happened in the Greek-Turkish war “when [the Greeks] were thrown into the sea.”

“The will for the Aegean to again become a grave for Greek aspiration is still alive,” he said.

Meanwhile, Turkey continued its policy of air space violation in the Aegean on Monday, when a pair of F-16 fighter jets entered Athens’s Flight Information Region (FIR) over Lemnos and Lesvos on Monday afternoon. The two jets flew over the islet of Lavitha at 24,300 feet and exited Athens’s FIR at 3.59 p.m., east of the island of Rhodes.

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