Turkey says captured PKK fighter trained in Greece as relations deteriorate

Turkey said it arrested a militant of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who was trained in Greece.

Husamettin Tanrıkulu was planning bombings in Turkey’s major cities after he was sent from the Lavrion Camp in Greece to Turkey, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said late on Sunday in a statement on Twitter. Tanrıkulu was caught in an operation conducted by the Istanbul and Diyarbakır police in conjunction with the intelligence services, he said.

Relations between Turkey and Greece are in their worst state since the 1990’s, when the two nearly went to war over a small islet in the Aegean. Ships from their navies faced off during a dispute over hydrocarbon rights in the Mediterranean in 2020. Turkey has since stepped up accusations that Greece has militarised islands near its coast and threatened reprisals unless it reverses course.

The Lavrion Camp is a refugee camp located about 60 kilometres south of Athens that Turkey says has turned into a hotspot for terrorists including the PKK.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is preparing for presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for June next year, said at the weekend that Greece would pay a “heavy price” if it went too far with its enmity towards his country. Turkey may “come suddenly one night” should Athens persist with its policies, he said.

Turkey has accused Greece of harbouring members of the PKK, an allegation Greece denies. The group, recognised as a terrorist organisation by the United States and European Union, has fought a four-decade war for autonomy against the Turkish military at the cost of about 40,000 lives, most of them Kurdish.  

Soylu said Tanrıkulu had been code-named ‘Delil’, or 'Evidence'.

Imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan took refuge at the Greek embassy in Nairobi prior to his capture in the city in February 1999. He is serving life without parole in an island jail near Istanbul.

The Czech Republic, which holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, slammed Erdoğan’s remarks towards Greece at the weekend.

“Unacceptable threatening of EU member states, like the one addressed to Greece in President Erdoğan’s recent public speech, is extremely unhelpful,” the Czech Foreign Ministry said on Twitter on Sunday, referring to its attempts to foster dialogue between Turkey and the EU.   


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