Bloomberg News

Greece Asks Turkey to Clarify Yilmaz’s Comments on Forest Fires

December 28, 2011

Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Greece asked Turkey to clarify press reports that former Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz said some Greek forest fires were deliberately set by Turkey’s secret service.

“As long as this information remains unclarified, it poisons public opinion and undermines efforts to build relations of trust,” Greece’s Foreign Ministry said in e-mailed statement today.

A Greek Supreme Court prosecutor requested that cases on forest fires from 1995 to 1997 be reopened, Athens-based news site 24h.gr reported today, without citing anyone. That followed a Turkish newspaper report, repeated in the Greek press yesterday, that quoted Yilmaz as saying Turkey’s secret service had sparked the blazes, especially on eastern Aegean islands, 24h.gr said. Calls to the Supreme Court by Bloomberg outside regular operating hours weren’t answered.

“The issue is completely distorted,” Yilmaz told Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency today. “I was referring to forest fires in Turkey. There was some speculation and information that large forest fires in 1990s were related to Greek secret services, and I said unless they are proven to be facts, publishing that information would be very wrong in terms of our relations with Greece.”

Greece experiences frequent forest fires during the summer months. Some are deliberately lit to clear land for building. Fires killed 65 people in 2007.

“Regardless of Mr. Yilmaz’s attempts to reformulate,” the Foreign Ministry said, “we asked that these statements and other public references that have seen the light of day in the past be investigated and that Greece be informed of all relevant information.”

--With assistance from Ercan Ersoy in Istanbul. Editors: Jim Silver, Leslie Hoffecker

To contact the reporter on this story: Natalie Weeks in Athens at nweeks2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at acullen8@bloomberg.net


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