THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Greece has strongly protested a decision by Turkey to deny entry to and detain a Greek regional governor who arrived by boat in Izmir to preside over a regional body's plenary session.
Apostolos Tzitzikostas, governor of Central Macedonia and first vice president of the European Union’s Committee of the Regions, said Turkish authorities did not provide a reason for denying him entry Saturday and keeping him in a room for over six hours.
“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.
In the end, after protests by both Greece and the EU, Turkey lifted the entry ban, but Tzitzikostas decided to leave anyway and not attend the 13th plenary session of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly, a body over which he presides, on Monday and Tuesday.
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% in Greece, I would also be trying to change the subject,” Mitsotakis said this week.
Nellas reported from Athens, Greece
Costas Kantouris And Demetris Nellas, The Associated Press