Turkey warns Greece after flag is hoisted on disputed island

Turkish special forces on one of the disputed islets known as Kardak in Turkish and Imia in Greek. (AP Photo)
Updated 16 April 2018
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Turkey warns Greece after flag is hoisted on disputed island

  • Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters that the Turkish coast guards had removed the flag from the island off the coast of the Aegean resort of Didim.
  • Yildirim said the incident was similar to one in 1996 when the two NATO allies nearly went to war over uninhabited islets — known as Imia in Greek and Kardak in Turkish.

Ankara: Turkey warned Greece on Monday to refrain from “provocations” after a Greek flag was hoisted on a disputed, uninhabited islet in the Aegean Sea off the Turkish coast.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters that the Turkish coast guards had removed the flag from the island off the coast of the Aegean resort of Didim.
Yildirim said the incident was similar to one in 1996 when the two NATO allies nearly went to war over uninhabited islets — known as Imia in Greek and Kardak in Turkish — which both Turkey and Greece claim.
“Our advice to Greece would be to stay away from provocations and agitations,” Yildirim said adding that Turkey was “determined to give the necessary response” to such acts.
Despite two decades of efforts to improve relations, Greece and Turkey have seen a spike in tensions in recent weeks over disputed Aegean boundaries as well as over oil-and-gas drilling rights off the divided island of Cyprus.
Asked about the incident during a joint news conference with visiting the NATO chief, Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu accused Greece’s defense minister — the outspoken leader of Greece’s nationalist party — of raising tensions in the Aegean Sea.
“His brattiness shouldn’t reach a level where it’ll damage relations between the two countries,” Cavusoglu said.
In Athens, Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzannakopoulos said the government had no knowledge of the incident and described the remarks by Yildirim as “provocative and reprehensible.”
“I think Mr. Yildirim should be more careful,” Tzannakopoulos said. “We call on Turkey to return to a path of respect for international law ... They should take an initiative to de-escalate the tension.”


Britain identifies Russians suspected of Skripal nerve attack — report

Updated 7 min 33 sec ago
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Britain identifies Russians suspected of Skripal nerve attack — report

LONDON: British police have identified several Russians who they believe were behind the nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, the Press Association reported on Thursday, citing a source close to the investigation.
Skripal, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain’s MI6 foreign spy service, and his daughter Yulia, were found unconscious on a public bench in the British city of Salisbury on March 4.
Britain blamed Russia for the poisonings and identified the poison as Novichok, a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 1980s. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack.
After analyzing closed-circuit television, police think several Russians were involved in the attack on the Skripals, who spent weeks in hospital before being spirited to a secret location, Press Association reported.
“Investigators believe they have identified the suspected perpetrators of the Novichok attack,” the unidentified source close to the investigation said, according to PA.
“They (the investigators) are sure they (the suspects) are Russian,” said the source, adding security camera images had been cross checked with records of people who entered the country.
A police spokesman declined to comment on the report.
After the attack on the Skripals, allies in Europe and the US sided with Britain’s view of the attack and ordered the biggest expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of the Cold War.
Russia retaliated by expelling Western diplomats. Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement and accused the British intelligence agencies of staging the attack to stoke anti-Russian hysteria.
Mystery surrounds the attack.
The motive for attacking Skripal, an aged Russian traitor who was exchanged in a Kremlin-approved spy swap in 2010, is still unclear, as is the motive for using of an exotic nerve agent which has such overt links to Russia’s Soviet past.
Novichok put the Skripals into a coma, though after weeks in intensive care they were spirited to a secret location for their safety.
“My life has been turned upside down,” Yulia Skripal told Reuters in May. “Our recovery has been slow and extremely painful.”
A British woman, Dawn Sturgess, died this month after coming across a small bottle containing Novichok near the city of Salisbury where the Skripals were struck down. Her partner, Charlie Rowley, is still in hospital.
A British police officer was also injured by Novichok while attending to the Skripals in March.