news yesterday that Mesut Yilmaz had admitted that in the 1990s Turkey’s secret services were responsible for arson attacks that devastated Greek forests in the islands of the Eastern Aegean, the former Turkish prime minister is now looking to retract, claiming he was misinterpreted. More than this, he is now saying, in an interview with the semi-official Turkish news agency Andalu, that he wasn’t talking about Turkish agents firing Greek forests, but Greek agents firing Turkish forests! Here’s Yilmaz’ tortuous explanation:
‘The entire issue has arisen out of a misunderstanding.
‘In replying to [Birgun journalist] Enver Aysever’s question, under which circumstances can we speak of state secrets, I said usually in regard to foreign policy. For example, I said, it would not have been correct to make public our suspicions that the forest fires that hit Turkey’s Aegean coast in the 1990s were the work of the Greek secret services, since these suspicions could not be substantiated.
‘The issue had nothing to do with forest fires in Greece, but forest fires in Turkey… Our Greek friends have been too quick to react [to this story]. I was talking about forest fires in Turkey… The whole issue has been distorted in order to stir up emotions.’