Greece, Turkey ramp up ‘war of words’ over jailed Greek soldiers
ATHENS – Agence France-Presse
Tension has continued to mount between Ankara and Athens, with Turkey’s European Union Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik calling Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos a “political comedian” over his remarks regarding recent military moves in the Aegean Sea and northeast Greece.
“This ‘political comedian’ who bears the title of Defence Minister of Greece is constantly making provocations. By remaining silent, the Greek government approves this provocateur who talks about enhancing military build-up against Turkey,” Çelik wrote in English on his Twitter account on April 8.
“The level of the statements of the impertinent political comedian who bears the title of Defence Minister of Greece is a matter of the Greek government. They are statements that have to be condemned by the EU,” he added.
Greece’s defense minister had said 7,000 service members from the Greek Armed Forces are being moved to islands in the eastern Aegean Sea and a border area in northeast Greece, amid a spike in tension with Turkey.
‘Provocative and unfair’ remarks
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ also took to the Twitter to blast what he called the “provocative and unfair” remarks of Greek officials regarding jailed Greek soldiers in Turkey.
“Some Greek ministers’ unfair and provocative statements about Turkey are not for the benefit of Greece. Considering Turkey’s position as a weakness is not the right manner for those who are wise and farsighted,” Bozdağ wrote on April 7.
He added that Turkey has “taken positive steps” to strengthen relations between Greece and Turkey but “some deficient Greek politicians” are trying to break the relationship between two countries.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on April 7 demanded the release of two soldiers jailed in Turkey, arguing that they should not be “pawns to blackmail.”
“Human life and human freedom are not, and should not be, pawns to power games and blackmail,” he said in a statement to the Documento newspaper.
Turkey is holding in pre-trial detention two Greek soldiers who crossed the border on March 2 after losing their way in the fog.
Greece had hoped to secure their release before Sunday’s Orthodox Easter celebration.
The Turkish media has reported that the pair, held in the northern Turkish province of Edirne, has been charged with espionage. But Athens contends that the Turkish authorities have not given adequate details of the charges, or on what evidence they are based.