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Arsonists burn Turkish diplomatic mission cars in Greece

Unknown perpetrators torched two cars belonging to Turkish nationals, a diplomat and an employee of an international financial institution, in the northern province of Thessaloniki, Greek local media outlets reported on Monday.

The incidents reportedly took place as two separate attacks in neighboring areas early on Monday.

The first attack targeted a car belonging to Serkan Burali, commercial attaché of the Turkish consulate at 4:45 am in front of his house, near Alexandrou Avenue.

Ten minutes after the first one, the arsonists’ second attack was on another car owned by a Turkish national who reportedly works for the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank.

The attack occurred in front of Burali’ss house. The home is situated a kilometer from the first incident at the junction of Calidopoulou and Soulioti streets.

Firefighters rushed to the two scenes. However, the vehicles were damaged beyond repair. No casualties were reported in the incidents.

The Greek police said the arsonists struck by pouring some flammable liquid over the cars in a bid to torch them, also damaging four other vehicles parked next to the targeted cars with Turkish diplomatic plates.

The National Security Service said it has launched an investigation into the attacks, which are being treated as deliberate acts of arson.

So far there has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.

Later on Monday, the Greek Foreign Ministry condemned unequivocally the arson attacks, vowing that the arsonists would be brought to justice.

“We condemn in the most unequivocal manner the arson attacks that were carried out today in Thessaloniki. Such unacceptable and irresponsible acts go against the values and principles that govern Greek political culture, and will not achieve their goal,” the ministry said in a written statement.

Friction soars between Turkey, Cyprus, and Greece over plans to drill off Cyprus

The incident came amidst ongoing tension between Ankara, Athens, and Cyprus over sovereign rights and international law in the  Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean.

Turkey has overlapping claims of jurisdiction with EU-member Greece and Cyprus for offshore oil and gas research in the eastern Mediterranean region where it is thought to be rich in natural gas.

The latter two have expressed deep concern over Turkey’s plans for offshore drilling operations in an area where they claim as Cyprus’ EEZ.

However, Ankara repeatedly says it would continue carrying out exploration and drilling activities in an effort to receive a fair share from gas resources of the disputed island in accordance with the rights bestowed by international law.

Supported by Turkey, the breakaway northern Turkish Cypriot state says that any offshore wealth also belongs to them as partners in the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960.

Last month Turkey sent drilling vessel Fatih to the west of Cyprus island to begin drilling. On Monday, the Greek Cypriot administration issued arrest warrants for 25 people, including the crew of the drilling ship Fatih and executives of the partner companies of the state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation.

To counteract this, the Turkish Foreign Ministry released a statement on Monday, vowing to initiate necessary counter-legal action together with related Turkish authorities.

“The Greek Cypriot Administration cannot take such a legal action based on a so-called national law, for a unilaterally claimed maritime area which is not delimited in accordance with international law. This is also incompatible with international law,” the statement read.

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