New information regarding the capture of the two Greek army officers at the Greek-Turkish border at Evros indicates that they may have fallen victim to unilateral Turkish actions that were essentially a trap designed to capture members of the Greek border patrol.
According to the HellasJournal.com website, run by veteran journalist and author Michalis Ignatiou, several days before the capture of the Greek officers, Turkey unilaterally removed stakes, which served as markers, at the margins of a 2.5 metre wide opening that essentially sets the borderline.
Usually, any such moves require prior approval by the border committee. It is not known if there was such an understanding, but there is information that the removal of the stakes and the delay in replacing them had raised concerns on the Greek side.
The report indicates that the patrol in which the two officers were engaged was in part intended to check whether the stakes had been returned to their proper place. The stakes had not been replaced.
The officers saw footprints which they attempted to follow, in order to check whether the stakes had been set up in the wrong location.
If the reports that the stakes had been removed in order to draw the attention of the Greek side are correct, it becomes apparent that the Turkish side had set a trap to lure the Greek patrols, resulting in the capture of the two Greek officers.
It should be noted that Defence Minister Panos Kammenos has repeatedly stated that the officers are “hostages”.
More recently, Kammenos likened this case to that of American pastor Andrew Brunson, whom Ankara wants to exchange for Fetullah Gulen, an Islamist cleric whom Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claims was responsible for the abortive coup against him, in July, 2016.
Brunson is accused of being an executive in Gulen’s movement, and a Turkish prosecutor has requested that he be given a life sentence.
Shift in Ankara’s border policies
According to a document published by the daily Ta Nea, Ankara has transferred authority for the management of minor incidents at the Evros border to paramilitary Gendarmerie (Jandarma Commander Bekir Kalyoncu in photo) commandos, and have forbidden resolution of such incidents on site, by agreement between the two sides’ commanders, as was the case until now.