Binali Yıldırım slams burning of flag in Athens
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Wednesday slammed the burning of a Turkish flag during a rally in the Greek capital, Athens, calling it an "unacceptable" act.
Speaking at a joint news conference with his Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus counterpart Tufan Erhürman in capital Ankara, Yıldırım said: "Insulting the flag means insulting the country. There is nothing acceptable about this.
"Our crescent-and-star flag is our pride. We would sacrifice our soul for the sake of this flag and we can mobilize all our resources for it," he added.
The Turkish flag was burned on Monday during an anti-Turkey rally in Athens organized by a racist political party.
Earlier on Wednesday, Turkey's Foreign Ministry also denounced the "heinous" flag-burning incident, demanding that Greek authorities arrest the perpetrators as soon as possible.
DRILLING OFF CYPRUS
During their meeting in Ankara, both prime ministers also discussed strengthening the close cooperation between Turkey and Northern Cyprus as well as the Cyprus issue in general, Yıldırım said.
Yıldırım said neither Turkey nor Northern Cyprus would accept any unilateral initiatives regarding the natural resources around the island.
"All kinds of natural riches, hydrocarbon resources around the island of Cyprus are the common wealth of all people living on the island, including both the North and the South," he said, referring to the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots.
"Therefore, unilateral activities around the island are never welcomed by us [Turkey]. Nor does the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus welcome this," Yıldırım added.
He underlined that people from both sides of the disputed island should be involved in any activities regarding the extraction of underground resources off Cyprus.
"We consider any work which both parties do not agree to a threat as well as an attempt to breach the sovereign rights of Northern Cyprus," said the Turkish premier.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks, and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.
It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the collapse of a 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries including Turkey, Greece, and Britain.
Turkey blames Greek Cypriot intransigence for the talks' failure, also faulting the European Union for admitting Cyprus as a divided island into the union in 2004 after Greek Cypriot voters rejected a peace deal.
DETENTION OF 2 GREEK SOLDIERS IN TURKEY
On the detention of two Greek soldiers who last week crossed the border into Turkey, Yıldırım said a legal process was underway and the Turkish judiciary would do the necessary work.
He also slammed Greek initiatives to take the issue to the European Union.
"It has become a habit to take every Turkish-related issue to the EU to get support from there. This and similar new initiatives neither take our relations with the EU farther ahead nor bring them down."
Lt. Aggelos Mitretodis and Sgt. Dimitros Kouklatzis were remanded in custody on March 2 after they "inadvertently" crossed the border in northwestern Turkey.
According to the soldiers, they got lost due to bad weather and later came across local Turkish patrol units.
Security sources said the Greek soldiers faced charges of espionage and sending records on their smartphones to their superiors.