Greece demands official response from Ankara on forest fires

December 28, 2011, Wednesday/ 17:38:00

Greece asked for an official response from Ankara in diplomatic notes simultaneously issued in Ankara and Athens on Tuesday regarding claims by former Prime Minister Mesut Yılmaz published in the Birgün daily last Friday of arsonist attacks on Greek forests by the Turkish deep state.

Greek Foreign Ministry officials responsible for Turkish affairs met with the Turkish Embassy undersecretary on Tuesday to discuss the Greek forest fire issue as Turkish Ambassador to Greece Kerim Uras was in Ankara for a conference. Meanwhile, the Greek Embassy in Turkey had a meeting with Turkish Foreign Ministry officials on the same issue. A diplomatic note submitted by Greece to Turkish officials in both Ankara and Athens on Yılmaz’s remarks demands that Ankara make a statement on the issue.

A report published in the Birgün daily last Friday quoted Yılmaz as having said that former Prime Minister Tansu Çiller used discretionary funds allocated for security to set Greek forests on fire in cooperation with Turkish deep state forces. The report also claimed that Yılmaz suggested that those fires were set in retaliation for forest fires in Turkey’s touristic areas during the 1990s, forests allegedly set ablaze by Greek secret service agents.

Yılmaz stated on Tuesday to members of the press in İstanbul that he was completely misquoted by the Birgün daily, which he denounced as a newspaper being “interested in stirring up sensationalism in Turkey,” and rejected the claims regarding Çiller and the Turkish deep state allegedly made by himself. Turkey called on Athens to be assured by Yılmaz’s remarks of being misquoted and rejecting the claims of arson attacks.

In addition to Greek Foreign Ministry meetings with Turkish officials, Greece’s Supreme Court prosecutor Yiannis Tentes launched an emergency inquiry, ordering the investigations into the mid-1990s wildfires blamed on arson to be reopened with regard to the initial claims reportedly made by Yılmaz. 

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