BY DILARA ASLAN ÖZER
Greece is harboring dozens of terrorists with the aim of unbalancing Türkiye and for the chance that they could one day be used against Ankara, a high-level Turkish official said.
Speaking about the Lavrion camp in Greece, the official said: “Athens has turned into a safe haven for terrorists. There is everything ranging from the DHKP-C, the PKK and FETÖ (Gülenist Terror Group) and the location of all of them is known.”
The aim is that these groups could be used one day against Turkey, the official said. “An EU member country in the 21st century is openly feeding terrorists. The PKK is a terrorist group and designated as such by both the EU and the U.S.”
“Athens is not a transit country for terrorists anymore, but the direct target country.”
Indicating that these groups protest in front of the Turkish Embassy regularly every week, the official pointed out that it is unlikely the Greek government is unaware of these acts, calling it collusion.
The official further warned that such groups could at any time turn against the country harboring them and harm Athens as well.
Speaking on bilateral ties between Türkiye and Greece, he elaborated that the country has built its identity on anti-Türkiye sentiment since its establishment, which explains why Athens is constantly occupied with raising tensions.
Türkiye and Greece are at odds over a number of issues, including competing claims over jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean, overlapping claims over their continental shelves, maritime boundaries, air space, energy, the ethnically split island of Cyprus, the status of the islands in the Aegean Sea and migrants.
The official, however, said that beside these “classic” disputes, the problems of FETÖ and Hagia Sophia being reverted into a mosque have added to tensions.
Notoriously, just one day after the coup bid, eight FETÖ member soldiers fled to the Greek city of Alexandroupolis in a military helicopter belonging to Türkiye and sought asylum there. In Greece, the soldiers claimed that they were unaware of the coup plot, and Athens refused to agree to insistent extradition requests from Turkish officials.
He also said that engaging in an arms race with Türkiye is a wrong policy as the money being spent for defense could instead be used for small and medium-sized enterprises currently struggling under harsh economic conditions.
“First of all there is no sense in it, secondly much of Türkiye’s defense industry output is returning to the Turkish economy, therefore, there is no sense in an arms race between a Türkiye that is procuring its own arms and a Greece that is foreign-dependent,” the official said.
Türkiye has often warned Greece against indulging in an arms race, offering instead to resolve all outstanding issues, including in the Aegean, the Eastern Mediterranean and the island of Cyprus, through dialogue.
Greece has ordered 24 French-made Rafale fighter jets – six new and 18 previously in service with the French Air Force, as well as three French frigates.
Greece also sent a letter of request to the United States to buy a squadron of F-35 fighter jets in June.
“Will these products change the balance in the region?” the official asked.
Regarding the fear of an alleged Turkish attack on Greek islands, the official said that this rhetoric is deliberately increased to make political gains with Athens approaching elections soon.