In a move that raised questions and concern on the Greek side, Ankara has toughened its policy on petty incidents at the Evros Greek-Turkish border, where two Greek army officers were captured, and has forbidden resolution of such incidents on the scene, between the two sides’ local commanders.

In a document issued in mid-March and obtained by Ta Nea, Ankara has transferred authority over border incidents to the paramilitary Jandarma (gendarmerie).

In a text entitled “Notification”, Turkish authorities announce that on site negotiations to resolve border incidents are banned from now on.

“On 17.03.2018, at 9:40am (Hellenic Time) the Commander of the Pazarkule Border Battalion called Common Contact Center. He stated that a Hellenic soldier came to the border and informed him that he wanted to speak the Hellenic battalion commander (sic) with the Turkish commander of the battalion in English. The commander of the Turkish battalion asked from us to inform you that Turkish soldiers which in there (sic) are not authorized allowed to contact in other officials (sic) from other countries directly, and that you can notify them if you have any request by means of the border authorities,” the document, apparently addressed to the Greek side, stated.

The document was drafted over two weeks after the capture of the two Greek officers in Kastanies, Evros, and may explain why efforts by the Greek commander who crossed over to the Turkish side to resolve the 1 March incident with his Turkish counterpart proved fruitless.

Under established practice until then, the Greeks would have been returned following a communication between the Greek and Turkish commanders.

At the time, the Turkish commander maintained he could not return the two Greeks because the Jandarma was assigned responsibility for the case.

After the Evros incident, the Greek army set up border patrols with eight heavily armed officers, whereas until now there were only two-man patrols.