Athens.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPA)
The handling by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, of an incident on a islet on River Evros, the natural boarder between Greece and Turkey has mounted criticism against the government by the opposition parties. According to press reports, Turkish soldiers have occupied a 16 acres wide islet in the middle of the river, that appears only when the water’s level is low and that lays inside the Greek side of the border. Turkey had make in the past unsuccessful efforts to occupy it, in 1978 and in 2012.
“Turkish soldiers and police special forces now have a solid presence within the Greek territory and have camped in the pocket of Apiary [Melissokomeio] at Feres,” the Daily Mail claimed on Friday, citing a Greek website called Army Voice.
“Around 35 soldiers reportedly marched onto a floodplain site on the east bank of the River Evros near the town of Feres,” The Sun also reported.
The area in question is Melissokomeio, near the southern part of the Evros River. Members of Turkey’s police special forces have had a presence in the area in recent weeks, blocking the work of the Hellenic Army’s geographical service in view of the expansion of a border fence to the southern section of the Evros River to avoid a repeat of the scenes in March when thousands of migrants amassed at the border trying to cross into Greece.
On Friday, Foreign ministry sources briefed the diplomatic editors that Athens lodged a demarche with Ankara over its presentation of a section of Greek territory in the southern Evros border region as Turkish.
But on Saturday, Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias debased news reports that claimed Turkish security forces established a permanent presence in Greek sovereign land near the town of Feres, Evros, in a post on social media.
The minister wrote that “it’s a shame how someone takes on fake news and claims that their country’s territory has been occupied by a foreign power. The ludicrousness goes hand in hand with irresponsibility,” Dendias pointed out.
Earlier on Saturday, the Foreign Affairs Ministry posted the following statement: “With regard to the recent dissemination of fake news, we stress that no foreign power is on Greek territory. The government has proven that it knows how to defend the borders of Greece and Europe and our sovereign rights.”
“The government has already demonstrated that it can defend the border of Greece and Europe and our sovereign rights,” the Foreign Ministry said in its statement on Saturday, referring to the events of March.
All opposition parties criticized Foreign Minister Dendias, while former Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias asked Dendias to resign because he doesn’t understand how foreign policy works.
SYRIZA on Saturday aired its persuasion that the government must clarify if Greek military forces retreated away from Greek territory as Turkish forces moved onto it, the party said in a Saturday statement.
The main opposition party was referring to reports that Turkish military and security forces occupied a plot of Greek territory near the town of Feres, at the Evros Greek-Turkish border in the last few days.
‘If this actually did happen,’ stressed Syriza, ‘then it constitutes an unprecedented action that requires an explanation by the Prime Minister himself.’
The party underlined that the Foreign Ministry’s claim that these reports are ‘fake news’ disseminated by Syriza, ‘backfired when the minister himself sent Turkey a diplomatic demarche against its soldiers performing land measurements on Greek territory.’
‘The minister would not have proceeded with an official complaint had the news been fake,’ the party observed.
Syriza also pointed up that what is important in this case is not ‘how many steps or yards one retreats,’ but that the government does not ‘have a strategy against Turkish claims.’
Therefore, the party assumed, ‘this government’s handling of critical national issues is dangerous, to say the least.’