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Turkey arrests 6 for leaking defence industries projects

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Turkish authorities arrested six people, including a former employee of the Defence Industries Corporation, for leaking information from defence projects to foreign companies, Anadolu news agency reported.

The Turkish authorities said in a statement that intelligence agents, in cooperation with the Ankara Security Directorate, raided the homes and workplaces of the detainees and arrested them.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office explained in a statement yesterday that the detainees received money in return for leaking defence industry projects to foreign companies.

The statement said the raid took place following intensive investigations, noting that one of the detainees held the position of project director in the Turkish defence industries.

During the raid, security forces found huge sums of foreign currency, in addition to digital materials, it added.

READ: Turkey arrests 3 Syrians for kidnapping Syria child for ransom

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Europe & Russia

Greece, France ink $3bn fighter jet deal

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Greece and France signed a $3 billion warplane deal yesterday as part of plans to upgrade Athens’ armed force in response to Turkish challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean, France24 reports.

Greece will buy 18 French Rafale jets, 12 of them used, the report explained.

Government spokesman Christos Tarantilis said delivery of the first six planes would begin in July.

A group of Greek air force pilots and technicians are to travel to France for training over the next few days, he added.

Tensions between Turkey and Greece have risen in recent months over a border dispute in the Mediterranean Sea.

READ: EU imposes sanctions on Turkey officials involved in gas drillings

In August, Turkey resumed energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal, spurning Turkey’s goodwill gesture in halting explorations.

Turkey has consistently opposed Greece’s efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores, violating Ankara’s interests, the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean.

Ankara has also said energy resources near the island of Cyprus must be shared fairly between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus.

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Europe & Russia

Turkey and Greece resume Mediterranean crisis talks

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Turkey and Greece resumed talks on Monday to settle the dispute over oil and gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, which resulted in a serious rift between the two NATO member states.

The talks were held at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, where Turkey’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sadat Onal, received a Greek delegation.

Talks about the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean have been suspended since 2016 after a major escalation between the two neighbours. The recent Turkish gas exploration in what the Greeks claim as their territorial waters plunged Ankara and Athens into a diplomatic crisis, unprecedented since 1996 when the two countries were on the verge of armed confrontation.

READ: EU welcomes restarted Turkey-Greece talks

The talks are part of a broader campaign launched by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who seeks to calm tension with the European Union. Last month, EU leaders decided at a summit in Brussels to punish Turkey for its “illegal and hostile” moves in the Mediterranean against Greece and Cyprus. Sanctions were imposed on individuals involved in Turkey’s operations in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Although Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that his country is entering these talks with “optimism and hope”, he does not expect any significant progress. The two parties failed to agree on an agenda for their meeting, an indication, perhaps, that the talks may turn out to be futile.

Greece wants to discuss the demarcation of the continental shelf around its islands in the Aegean Sea, while Turkey wants to expand the scope of the talks to include the countries’ respective exclusive economic zones and air space.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu denounced “provocation” by Athens, which talked about doubling the area of its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea. Such a step is regarded by Ankara as very dangerous.

Cavusoglu’s counterpart, Nikos Dendias, reiterated the importance of the talks, stressing that the meeting will not include formal negotiations, but rather informal discussions on the issue. “But we hope that these talks will lead to de-escalating tension,” he added. Despite these differences, the EU welcomed the resumption of dialogue between the two countries, considering it a “positive sign”.

The crisis between Athens and Ankara escalated with the deployment of a Turkish vessel in the disputed area last August near the Greek island of Kastellorizo, a few kilometres off the Turkish coast. Greece, which is finalising a deal to buy 18 French Rafale aircraft to boost its defences, accused Turkey of violating its maritime borders.

READ: ‘Turkey hopes to find solutions in talks with Greece’

Ankara believes that the presence of this small island does not justify preventing it from exploration activities in a large part of the Eastern Mediterranean that is rich in natural gas reserves. At the end of November, the vessel returned to port in Turkey, in an effort to ease the tension.

Analysts believe that Turkey is seeking to reduce the tension with Europe due to economic difficulties, which have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election.

Ankara expects a change in US policy towards Erdogan’s administration, after the Turkish president established a strong personal relationship with Donald Trump.

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Europe & Russia

After 20 operations, Syrian mother sees her sons again

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A Syrian mother who lost her sight following a barrel bomb explosion at the hands of the Assad regime has been able to see her sons for the first time in two years.

Thirty-five-year-old Fatima Nahas underwent 20 surgeries in Turkey to restore her sight after she suffered burns to her face in the attack on Aleppo on 9 January 2019.

Fatima and her husband, Mazen Khadija who is 41 years old, left their two children in the care of their grandmother on the outskirts of Aleppo and were rushed to a Turkish hospital in the governorate of Hatay.

READ: Footballer Mohamed Salah donates ambulance centre to home town

After undergoing 12 surgeries to restore her sight and more than 20 others to relieve the pressure from scars on her face and body, Fatima was able to see four-year-old Mohammad Al-Fateh and three-year-old Zakaria on 8 January. After an emotional reunion, the entire family is now settled in the Turkish town of Adana.

“I don’t remember how many surgeries I’ve had here,” the mother told Anadolu. “I have been in and out of surgery rooms as soon as I arrived in Turkey. I was mentally devastated and was always dreaming of my children, thinking of whether I would be able to see them again.”

“I was so distressed and crying all the time in their absence,” she said, “this caused higher blood pressure and doctors had to postpone my surgeries for this reason. They told me it would be better if I had my children here in Turkey.”

READ: UN urges more support for Turkey on Syrian refugees

With more surgeries to go, Fatima hopes her mother can move to Adana to live with them and take care of her children while she is in hospital.

Mazen, an academic who worked at the faculty of law in Syria before the war, lost “many children” during the war, referring to his students who were killed in bombings.

“Then, I was separated from my own children. They stayed in Aleppo for a while but we were worried because the attacks were intense there. Thank God, we are together again,” he said.

Mazen said he feels “alive” again after reuniting with his sons.

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