Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 06 January 2018
GREECE 22 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 6 JANUARY 2018 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Greek government sides with Turkey against judiciary decision to grant asylum to anti-Erdogan military officer The Greek government filed a motion last Saturday to overturn a decision by a Greek tribunal to grant asylum to one of eight Turkish officers who fled to Greece after a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016. The motion took place a day after the tribunal’s decision, and hours after a heated response by the Turkish foreign ministry and Erdogan-dominated government's deputy prime minister, Hakan Cavusoglu, who said: "The terrorists you release today are like dynamite ready to explode, and you may not have a country to protect when it does." Identified by the Turkish media as Suleyman Ozkaynakci, the man in question was the co-pilot of the Turkish army helicopter that landed in northeast Greece, carrying seven more military officers, who Ankara claims are followers of the Gulen movement and active participants in the coup. The three members of the appellate-level asylum committee - comprised of two serving administrative judges and a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - included a statement in their 58-page decision to grant asylum, that no proof was presented to back up this allegation. The committee ruled that there was no evidence the officer participated in the putsch and cited international treaties and conventions that "absolutely" support the decision to grant asylum and prevent his return to Turkey to face charges of participating in the military coup. Deeming the decision as having "a political motive", the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a harsh statement (L-R) Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Greece’s prime minister Alexis Tsipras drink water during a joint news conference following their meeting at Maximos Mansion in Athens. PHOTO: AAP VIA AP/THANASSIS STAVRAKIS of its own, accusing Greece of being "a country that protects and embraces plotters", something "once again revealed through this decision", which "undoubtedly has effects on our bilateral relations with Greece and our joint region- al efforts." Although the Greek government's motion was seen as a response to these statements, Greece's official reaction came from President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who used the opportunity of his Anastasiades speaks of Turkish-Cypriot EEZ, spurs controversy President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiadis at the Maximos Mansion. PHOTO: AP VIA AAP /NEWZULU/VANGELIS KARPATHAKIS As contenders for the Cypriot presidency get ready for what looks like a heated election campaign, Nicos Anastasiades found himself in the epicentre of political controversy, entertaining the idea of a TurkishCypriot Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). "If they [Turkey] choose to defend the rights of the Turkish-Cypriots to a separate, independent entity, then they must limit themselves to whatever the proportion is that belongs to the said illegal entity. Consequently, they have no reason to dispute the sover- eign rights of the Republic of Cyprus," President Anastasiades said, commenting on Turkey's mounting pressure over Cyprus' hydrocarbons programme. For years Turkey has challenged Cyprus' right to explore for hydrocarbons in its Exclusive Economic Zone, and by all indications it is preparing to conduct its own drilling within that zone in the near future. The Cypriot president's statement caused immediate backlash. "With these statements, Mr Anastasiades is essentially dividing Cyprus' EEZ and handing half of it over to the pseudo-state [Turkish occupation regime]," said presidential contender Nikolas Papadopoulos, son of the late president Tassos Papadopoulos, who rejected the Annan Plan to reunify the island in two communities in 2004. Echoing his characterisation of the Anastasiades statement as 'dangerous and wrong', the left wing opposition party AKEL dismissed any doubt that Cyprus has only one indivisible EEZ, and that all that remains to be done is to delineate with that of the Republic of Turkey. After that, government spokesman Nikos Christodoulidis issued a statement trying to appease critics: "To restore the truth, we note that President Anastasiades in his statements yesterday repeated what everyone knows, that Turkey diachronically invokes the alleged interests of the Turkish Cypriots to justify its illegal and provocative actions against the Republic of Cyprus." Rise in number of new businesses created in Greece while business closures are in decline In what is seen as the first tangible sign of optimism, the number of new businesses created in Greece in 2017 was 5.7 per cent higher compared to 2016, while the number of business closures fell by 34.8 per cent. According to data provided by the business registry of the Ministry of Economy, 30,077 new businesses opened in 2017, while 24,046 terminated their operation. In 2016, the corresponding figures were 28,463 and 36,881 respectively. The Imia islets. annual New Year's statement to send a stern message to Ankara. "We are not arrogant, we do not overestimate our power, neither will we underestimate them," the president told reporters at the presidential mansion. "Our role is historic even where our neighbours are concerned," he said. "When they forget themselves, we should show them the right way," he added. "When necessary we are united and strong and we will show this." On the same day, 11 former bar association presidents from across Greece issued a joint statement weighing in on the issue and calling on the Tsipras Government to respect the committee's decision. "International legal and case law rules are officially inviolable by every government that respects itself and its citizens, and the same international rules are not subject to short-sighted, capricious, opportunistic and expedient policies," the statement read. Although the Tsipras government moved to overturn the asylum decision, the prospect of extraditing the eight men to Turkey to face charges is apparently not at stake. Two official extradition requests by Ankara have already been rejected by Greek courts, as high up as the Supreme Court. Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos confirmed this last Sunday through his official Twitter account: "The issue of extradition has concluded. The eight will not be extradited, regardless of the course of their asylum requests." A new Imia crisis? Just weeks after the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu made a mention of "occupied" islets in the Aegean in an infamous parliamentary speech, a story in the Turkish media suggests that Greece and Turkey might be bracing up for a repeat of a tragic incident. According to a report in the Hurriyet newspaper, on Tuesday 3 January the Turkish Coast Guard prevented one Greek battleship and two Greek coastguard boats from approaching the "disputed islets of Kardak" (as the Imia are called by the Turks). "The two countries' boats were 30 metres apart and ran parallel to each other off the coast of Bodrum's Turgutreis neighbourhood along the southern Aegean Coast, according to witnesses", the story revealed, which claimed that the standoff lasted for five hours. The Hellenic Ministry of National Defence confirmed only part of the story. In a statement made to the Greek newspaper Proto Thema, a spokesperson for the Hellenic Navy confirmed that a Navy ship, the Nikiphoros gunboat, patrolled near Imia, but denied that any standoff took place. "Nothing happened," said the officer. "Nor was there a verbal episode, nor anything else mentioned in the Turkish publication." The islets, ‘Imia’ in Greek and ‘Kardak’ in Turkish, are a pair of two small uninhabited rocks in the Aegean Sea, situated between the Greek island chain of the Dodecanese and the southwestern mainland coast of Turkey. Greece and Turkey nearly went to war over the islets in 1996 during a heated incident that resulted to the deaths of two Greek soldiers.
23 December 2017
13 January 2018