Turkish PM Yıldırım offers condolences for loss of Greek fighter pilot

13 April 2018
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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Thursday afternoon expressed his and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s condolences to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras over the same-day loss of a Greek Mirage 2000-5 combat pilot.

The two men spoke by phone.

A press release issued by Tsipras’ office said both leaders agreed to keep “lines of communication open” over the coming period and to “reinforce dialogue by the two countries in the future”.

Hellenic Air Force Capt. Georgios Baltadoros, 34, perished when his single-seat French-made fighter plane went down some nine nautical miles northeast of the central Aegean island of Skyros at roughly 12.15 p.m. (10.15 GMT). The island hosts a military airbase.

In a subsequent “unofficial mode”, sources from the prime minister’s office later said the issue of two Greek servicemen still being held in pre-trial detention in a Turkish border city was raised by Tsipras.

The same unnamed sources claimed that Yildirim briefed Tsipras over developments in a judicial investigation into the affair, essentially centering on the alleged entry of the pair into Turkish territory along a poorly demarcated border line. He also promised to keep the Greek side informed. A judicial investigation has dragged on for more than a month, with no fixed date given for a first instance trial or even a specific charge sheet.

The same sources also made a point of noting that Tsipras and Yıldırım discussed “cooperation” in “dismantling the Gulen network”, a reference to the movement led by reclusive and exiled Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, which the AKP-dominated government and Turkish state blame for a July 2016 coup in the neighboring country.

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