THESSALONIKI – A Greek Regional Governor was initially prohibited by Turkey from entering the country to attend a plenary session of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly.
Apostolos Tzitzikostas presides over the body that is having its meetings in Izmir and is Governor of Central Macedonia and First Vice-President of the European Union’s Committee of Regions.
After vehement protests from Greece’s New Democracy government – and after he said he was held without cause for six hours – he was allowed to proceed after arriving by boat, but decided not to attend after the ban was eventually lifted.
“We unequivocally condemn the unacceptable and totally unjustified detention and entry ban imposed on the governor of Central Macedonia by the Turkish authorities in Izmir,” Greece’s Foreign Ministry said.
The EU – which Turkey has fruitlessly been trying to join since 2005 and now is raising provocations against Greece – also denounced the detention of the Greek official that added to the tensions.
Greek-Turkish relations are going through a tense period, with Turkish officials from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on down making frequent bellicose statements. Erdogan has refused to speak to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, even though both are NATO allies.
Greek officials attribute the heightened tensions to Erdogan facing a difficult reelection next year amid Turkey’s severe economic woes.
“If we had inflation running at 85 percent in Greece, I would also be trying to change the subject,” Mitsotakis said although he has pushed for diplomacy instead of confrontation but received no response.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)