Greece, Turkey wrangle over military games in eastern Med

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, right, and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov after their meeting in Athens, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (AP Photo)
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Updated 26 October 2020

Greece, Turkey wrangle over military games in eastern Med

  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said both Greece and Turkey were canceling military exercises scheduled for this week on each other’s national holidays
  • Hours after that statement was made, Turkey issued a new maritime safety warning, known as a Navtex, announcing a military exercise during Greece’s Oct. 28 holiday

ATHENS, Greece: Greece on Monday denounced Turkey’s plans to carry out a maritime military exercise on Oct. 28, a Greek national holiday, announced hours after NATO’s secretary general said both countries had called off wargames on each other’s national holidays.
Tension with Turkey was one of the main topics of discussion between Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Monday.
Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Ankara’s move showed it was an “unreliable” partner when it comes to negotiations.
“Over the last few days, Turkey has been making a persistent effort to prove that not only is it a troublemaker in our wider region, but it is also a completely unreliable interlocutor,” Petsas said.
Neighbors and NATO allies Greece and Turkey have had often frosty relations through the years. Most recently they have been locked in a bitter dispute in over maritime boundaries and energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Turkey has sent a seismic research vessel, the Oruc Reis, to prospect for energy reserves on the seabed in an area Greece that claims is on its own continental shelf and where it has exclusive economic rights. Turkey disputes the claim.
The spat has led to warships from the two sides facing off in the area, leading to fears of open conflict.
On Friday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said both Greece and Turkey were canceling military exercises scheduled for this week on each other’s national holidays, and described the move as “steps in the right direction, they help reduce the risks of incidents and accidents.”
But Petsas said Monday that hours after that statement was made, Turkey issued a new maritime safety warning, known as a Navtex, announcing a military exercise during Greece’s Oct. 28 holiday.
The day marks the anniversary of Oct. 28, 1940, when Greece rejected an ultimatum by Italy to allow Axis forces to enter Greece, thus marking Greece’s official entry into World War II.
A Turkish official confirmed that Turkey and Greece mutually canceled planned exercises for this week. The official said Turkey had also canceled another Navtex for live-fire exercises as a show of goodwill. However, a third notice for exercises on Oct. 28 and 29 was still in place.
The official provided the information on condition of anonymity in line with government protocol.
Greece’s foreign minister said the “common denominator” in issues he discussed with Lavrov was “Turkey’s destabilizing role, its neo-Ottoman, expansionist views.”
Both Dendias and Petsas said Turkey had issued a new Navtex for more research to be carried out in an area they said was over the Greek continental shelf.
“It is obvious that Turkey is investing in escalating tensions,” Dendias said after his meeting with Lavrov, adding he “made it clear that Greece is ready for all contingencies and has no choice but to defend its sovereignty and its sovereign rights.”
Lavrov said all disputes in the region should be “resolved in accordance with international law” and through dialogue.
Both Greece and Turkey have said they are willing to talk, although Greece has said it cannot do so while Turkey continues to prospect for energy reserves in areas claimed by Greece.
Dendias also raised the issue of the sale of weapons systems to Turkey with Lavrov. Last week, Athens called on European countries to halt military exports to Turkey, saying the equipment was being used as a destabilizing factor in the region.
Dendias said he expressed concern to Lavrov over “the particularly negative role Turkey is playing” in efforts to undermine successes against the Daesh group, and accused Turkey of having become “a travel agency for extremists, who are transported to various areas of problems in the region.”
Turkey has been accused of using Syrian mercenaries to boost parties it supports in conflicts in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh.


New Zealand regulator charges 13 parties over White Island eruption tragedy

Updated 31 sec ago

New Zealand regulator charges 13 parties over White Island eruption tragedy

  • 22 people were killed in last year's surprise eruption on the White Island

WELLINGTON: New Zealand’s workplace regulator will file charges against 13 parties following an investigation into a volcanic eruption on White Island in 2019 which killed 22 people, state broadcaster 1NEWS said on Monday.
A surprise eruption on the White Island, also known by its Maori name of Whakaari, on Dec 9 last year, killed 22 people and injured dozens.
Majority of them were tourists who were part of a cruise ship that was traveling around New Zealand and were from countries like Australia, the United States and Malaysia. There were 47 people on the island when the volcano erupted.
Worksafe, New Zealand’s primary regulator for workplace related incidents, will charge 10 parties under the Health and Safety at Work Act which has a maximum fine of NZ$1.5 million ($1.06 million), the report said.
Three individuals would be charged as directors or individuals who were required to exercise due diligence to ensure the company meets its health and safety obligations. These charges each carry a maximum fine of $300,000, it added.
WorkSafe is not naming those charged as they may seek suppression orders in their first appearance in court on Dec 15, 1NEWS reported.
The coroner is conducting a separate inquiry into the incident. A coronial investigation is automatically triggered in the event of a sudden, violent or unnatural death.
At the time of the eruption questions were raised why people were allowed on the island, a popular destination for day-trippers, given there was reportedly a heightened risk of an eruption.