Greece blames Turkey for holding foreign minister’s plane

Greece says the plane carrying Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, left, had been deliberately held up. (AP)
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Updated 16 October 2020

Greece blames Turkey for holding foreign minister’s plane

ATHENS: Greece accused Turkey on Thursday of deliberately holding up a government aircraft carrying its foreign minister home from Iraq, leaving it circling for 20 minutes before granting it permission to cross Turkish airspace.
Turkey denied the accusation, saying the aircraft had taken off from Iraq without a flight plan but had been allowed to pass once one was procured.
Tensions between the two NATO allies, locked in a dispute over maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean, have been simmering amid claims and counter-claims to marine areas thought to be rich in natural gas.
“It is one more provocation in Turkey’s series of provocations,” Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters. “I hope the incident is not repeated in the future.”
He said Greece’s Foreign Ministry had complained to the Turkish authorities.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy dismissed the suggestion that the plane carrying Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias had been deliberately held up as a provocation to Athens.
“The plane in question took off from Iraq without presenting a flight plan. When the plane entered our air space, a flight plan was urgently requested from Iraqi authorities, and the flight was safely carried out after the plan was received,” he said.
He said Turkey had granted permission to a Greek request for the minister’s plane to pass over its air space en route to Iraq on Oct. 14.
After that plane malfunctioned in Iraq, Greece sent a second aircraft which was also granted permission to fly through Turkish air space, “with the same flight permission number, without any delay,” Aksoy said.
Separately on Thursday, France and Germany accused Turkey of continuing to provoke the EU with its actions in the eastern Mediterranean, and gave it a week to clarify its positions.
 


Iran breaks its record for most new coronavirus cases in one day

Updated 20 October 2020

Iran breaks its record for most new coronavirus cases in one day

  • Iran, which emerged early on as an epicenter of the virus, has seen its worst wave of deaths from the illness in recent weeks
TEHRAN: Iran on Tuesday reported its highest single-day toll of new coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic with more than 5,000 new infections, as the country struggles to cope with a surge in transmission.
Iran’s health ministry also reported that 322 people had died from the virus, pushing the death toll over 31,000. The new infection count on Tuesday eclipsed the previous high of 4,830 last week, shining a light on the nation’s floundering efforts to combat the virus.
Iran, which emerged early on as an epicenter of the virus, has seen its worst wave of deaths from the illness in recent weeks. Monday’s death toll shattered its previous single-day record, prompting state news outlets to declare it a “black day.”
Hospitals in the hard-hit capital of Tehran are overflowing. Last week, health officials announced that the city had run out of intensive care beds for virus patients.
The increase comes after Iranians packed cafes and restaurants at vacation spots during recent national holidays, and after schools reopened for in-person instruction last month.
The government has resisted a total lockdown because it does not want to further weaken an economy already devastated by unprecedented US sanctions. The Trump administration re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran after withdrawing in 2018 from Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers.
With the death toll skyrocketing, authorities are now starting to impose more restrictions. The government closed museums, libraries, beauty salons, schools and universities in Tehran earlier this month, and imposed a mask mandate outdoors.