Greek PM takes high road in response to Turkish threats

31 January 2017
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In what was seen as a response to a recent proliferation of Turkish provocations, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Tuesday that the future of the Balkans and the wider region can only be built on the foundation of international law and mutual respect, dialogue and cooperation.

Speaking during a visit to Belgrade, Tsipras added that this future cannot be built with “violations, provocations and with the revisions of international treaties.”

Tsipras’s comments came as Athens seeks to ease tensions with Ankara, which has upped the ante since Greece’s Supreme Court refused Turkey’s extradition request for eight Turkish servicemen, who are accused of participating in the failed coup attempt in the neighboring country in July.

Tsipras added that irredentism, nationalism and intolerance are obstacles to progress and the establishment of good-neighborly relations in the region.

The tough rhetoric coming out of Turkey continued Tuesday – after a Turkish gunboat sailed into Greek waters and around the Imia islets on Sunday – with its Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag taking the lead, saying that the issue of the eight servicemen will “damage” bilateral ties, and warned of reprisals.

“We will treat them as they treat us from now on,” he said in reference to all the countries that have refused to extradite Turkish officers allegedly involved in the coup, and he urged Greece to “reconsider” Turkey’s new extradition request.

Meanwhile, Turkish and Greek fighter jets engaged in three mock dog fights Tuesday southeast of Chios in the eastern Aegean.

Online

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