Turkey, Europe

Turkish PM urges Greece to avoid escalating tensions

Greek youths reportedly planted a flag on islet in the Aegean Sea late Sunday

Turkish PM urges Greece to avoid escalating tensions


Turkey’s prime minister on Monday urged Greece to avoid escalating tensions in the wake of another flashpoint incident in the Aegean.

“Our coast guard teams did what was necessary and removed the flag,” Binali Yildirim said, following reports that Greek youths late Sunday tried to plant a flag on an islet near Didim, southwestern Turkey.

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul, Yildirim said Sunday’s incident was similar to events in February over the Kardak islets, in which a Turkish patrol boat rammed into a Greek Coast Guard patrol boat in the Aegean.

In January, the Turkish Coast Guard blocked Greece’s defense minister from approaching Kardak to lay a wreath there.

A decades-long dispute between Turkey and Greece over the uninhabited Aegean islets brought the two countries to the brink of an armed conflict in 1996.

'Continuous stability'

Before his speech with the reporters, Prime Minister Yildirim attended a panel on the presidential system, which Turkey adopted a year ago following a referendum.

On April 16, 2017 Turkey held a referendum which asked voters to decide on an 18-article bill to switch from a parliamentary to a presidential system.

Yildirim said the process to change system was ongoing, describing the system as a "continuous stability".

“The assembly and presidential government system have become two structures controlling each other,” Yildirim said.

Yildirim said the two had not had to object to each other’s decisions, and added that both were going to be elected in the same polls.

“And this brings the consensus along,” he said.

“There should be one authority. This doesn’t mean one man. It means the authority, which is chosen by the nation, should be the only one that decides on behalf of the nation,” Yildirim said.

The parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled to take place in November 2019.

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