Ten days before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s scheduled high-profile visit, the Greek police found bomb-making material and arrested nine Turkish nationals on Tuesday on suspicion of having links to extreme leftist groups during a police operation in Athens.
In raids on three apartments near the center of the Greek capital, police arrested eight men and one woman suspected to be linked to the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C). Police found bomb-making equipment and other materials in the raids, questioning the arrested over whether they plot to target President Erdogan who will visit Greece in early December.
Greece whose relations with neighboring Turkey run into periodical crises over unresolved territorial disputes in the Aegean Sea and intractable Cyprus issue has become a place for Turkish and Kurdish militant groups sought a sanctuary.
The DHKP-C and militants affiliated with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) used Greek islands in the past as their escape routes to Europe Greek authorities sporadically target militants they detected in the mainland.
Turkey has fretted about Athens’ reluctance to extradite eight coup plotters who flew to Greek islands after a putsch decisively failed in 2016 summer. Greek Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s decision for sending Turkish soldiers back, citing the lack of fair trial and existence of torture in prison.
Despite enduring points of contention, the two countries are closely cooperating on the migrant issue, and their cooperation constitutes the backbone of the EU-Turkey deal to stem the migrant flow from Turkey to Europe.
Mr. Erdogan will be the first Turkish president to visit Greece since 1952, his aide said last week.