Greek PM calls for ‘sense’ from Turkey in East Med row

The recent flare-up in tensions between Turkey and Greece began with Turkish surveying of Mediterranean sea claimed by Greece. (AFP)
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Updated 12 August 2020

Greek PM calls for ‘sense’ from Turkey in East Med row

  • Greek PM warns his country 'will not suffer blackmail'
  • Tensions between the two Mediterranean countries have been rising in recent weeks

ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday urged Turkey to show “sense” in a naval showdown in the Eastern Mediterranean over energy exploration which he warned could lead to a military accident.
Tensions were stoked Monday when Ankara dispatched the research ship Oruc Reis accompanied by Turkish naval vessels off the Greek island of Kastellorizo in the eastern Mediterranean.
Greece also deployed warships to monitor the vessel, which is currently sailing west of Cyprus.
“We are vigilantly looking forward to sense prevailing, at last, in our neighboring country, so that dialogue may be re-initiated in good faith,” Mitsotakis said in a statement released by his office first in Greek, then in English with some variations.
“The risk of an accident lurks when so many military assets are gathered in such a contained area,” he warned.
The Greek PM said Athens would not seek to escalate the situation, but added: “No provocation will though go unanswered.”
Athens has demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Oruc Reis from what it regards as its continental shelf, and has asked for an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers on the issue.

“Our country never threatens but will not suffer blackmail either,” Mitsotakis said.
“We are not alone in this effort,” he said.
Earlier Wednesday, EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell said foreign ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting Friday to discuss the eastern Mediterranean, Lebanon and Belarus.
The incident is the latest spat over energy exploration in the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean, a frequent source of disputes between Turkey and neighbors including Greece, Cyprus and Israel.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will fly to Israel on Thursday for talks, his office said.
Dendias is also to address the issue with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Vienna on Friday.

A similar crisis last month was averted after Turkey pulled the Oruc Reis back to hold talks with Greece and rotating EU chair Germany.
But the mood soured last week after Greece and Egypt signed an agreement to set up an exclusive economic zone in the region.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said his country would step up energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and would not “compromise” on its rights.
Turkey has announced the Oruc Reis would carry out activities between August 10 and 23, in an area it considers its own continental shelf.
Mitsotakis on Monday conferred with his military chiefs and spoke with EU Council President Charles Michel and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sounded a slightly more conciliatory note after a meeting with his own ministers later Monday.
“Let us all come together as Mediterranean countries and find a formula that protects all of our rights,” Erdogan said in a national address.
But Erdogan added: “We cannot allow (nations) to ignore a big country like Turkey and try to imprison us to our shores.”
The Turkish foreign ministry has said the Greece-Egypt agreement was “null and void.”
Egypt, Cyprus and Greece have likewise denounced a contentious deal, including a security agreement, signed last year between Ankara and the UN-recognized government in Libya.
Greece, Cyprus and Israel in January signed an agreement for a huge pipeline project to transport gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe despite Turkey’s hostility to the deal.


Iraqis gather in Baghdad to mark anti-government protests anniversary

Updated 9 min 56 sec ago

Iraqis gather in Baghdad to mark anti-government protests anniversary

  • Protesters waved the Iraqi flag and chanted “free revolutionaries"

BAGHDAD: A few hundred Iraqis gathered in Baghdad’s central Tahrir square on Thursday to mark the anniversary of anti-government unrest that erupted last year and to put pressure on the authorities to meet their demands.
Protesters waved the Iraqi flag and chanted “free revolutionaries, we will continue the path.”
Some sang patriotic songs while clapping.
“We are here to start the revolution again...We haven’t forgotten about the blood of the martyrs,” said Abbas Younis, 25, wearing an Iraqi flag as a cape and a surgical mask.
More than 560 people, mostly unarmed demonstrators but also some members of the security forces, have been killed since a spate of popular unrest began on Oct. 1, 2019, with both security forces and unidentified gunmen shooting people dead.
London-based Amnesty International called on the Iraqi government on Thursday to do more to “deliver justice to the hundreds killed in the course of exercising their right to peaceful assembly.
“Find the missing, deliver justice for lives lost,” it said.
Protesters, most of them young, are demanding an overhaul of a political system they see as profoundly corrupt and keeping most Iraqis in poverty.
The protests have shaken the country out of two years of relative calm following the defeat of Islamic State insurgents.
Infighting between political parties clinging to power has fueled the crisis and threatens to kindle more unrest.
Last year’s protests caused the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who was replaced in May by Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who pledged to investigate the deaths and incarceration of hundreds of protesters.
Demonstrators on Thursday gave the government until Oct. 25 to meet their demands by Oct. 25 or face a general strike.
“Our demands are simple and legitimate...We demand the killers of the protesters be prosecuted,” said Mustafa Makki.
Dressed in combat trousers and wearing a shirt with an image of a slain protester and a necklace made out of an empty tear gas canister, the 24-year-old said he had four bullet wounds, and one of them had cost him his vision in his left eye.
Later on Thursday, dozens took to the streets in the southern cities of Diwaniyah and Najaf, waving the Iraqi flag and carrying photographs of demonstrators killed last year.
Kadhimi in July called an early general election for June 6, 2021, roughly a year ahead of when it would normally be held, a central demand of the protesters. But Iraqi’s parliament must still ratify the election date and amend the election law.
Kadhimi and President Barham Salih pledged to meet the demands of the protesters. “We affirm our loyalty to our people and to the roadmap imposed by the blood and scarifies of its youth,” Kadhimi said in a statement.