Turkish diplomat’s car set on fire in Greece amid row over Eastern Mediterranean

by on 23 December 2019

ATurkish diplomat’s car was torched in Greece early Monday, police said, amid escalating tensions between the two NATO allies.

Nobody was hurt in the incident in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city. The Turkish consular staffer’s car did not have diplomatic license plates, the police said.

Authorities were investigating the incident which took place around 3:30 a.m.

“There was extensive damage,” said the official who declined to be named. However, there were no injuries.

Arson attacks are not uncommon in the country which has a history of political violence.

Turkey and Greece are locked in a row over energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean and Ankara’s maritime deal with Libya that expands Turkey’s claims over a large gas-rich area of the sea.

The deal enabled Turkey to secure its rights in the Mediterranean while preventing any fait accompli by other regional states. However, Greece, one of the main regional actors, did not welcome the deal and regarded it as a violation of its rights, though international law proves otherwise.

Referring to the deal as a “provocation,” the Greek prime minister said Ankara’s move “will not produce internationally legal results,” claiming that it “cannot challenge the sovereign rights of our islands.”

Greece’s foreign minister on Sunday made a whirlwind tour of eastern Libya, Egypt and Greek Cyprus administration, after which Athens said it would sign an agreement for a huge EastMed pipeline project with the Greek Cyprus administration and Israel on Jan. 2.

Greece and Turkey are also on opposing sides in the long-running conflict in Libya.

Turkey supports the U.N.-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli against eastern Libya strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar is backed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), countries with whom Turkey has tense or limited relations