Europe

Tsipras in Twitter outburst after Turkey downs Russia plane

  • 30 November 2015
  • From the section Europe
Alexis Tsipras (L) and Ahmet Davutoglu, 18 Nov Image copyright AP
Image caption The exchange came as the PMs attended a European Union-Turkey summit on refugees

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has attacked his Turkish counterpart on Twitter after the downing of a Russian plane, prompting an admonishing reply.

Mr Tsipras posted four tweets on Sunday addressed to Ahmet Davutoglu, complaining about Turkish violations of Greek airspace.

"Fortunately our pilots are not mercurial as yours against the Russians," his first tweet read.

Mr Davutoglu replied urging Mr Tsipras to "focus on our positive agenda".

The exchange followed last week's downing of the Russian warplane, which Turkey said had violated its airspace while carrying out missions in Syria. Russia denied the plane was over Turkish territory and a major diplomatic row ensued.

'Communication disaster'

The exchange came as both prime ministers attended the European Union-Turkey summit on refugees in Brussels on Sunday.

The two sides struck a deal there to try to control the flow of migrants into Europe, under which Turkey will receive €3bn (£2.1bn) and political concessions in return for clamping down on its borders and keeping refugees in the country.

Mr Tsipras said in his tweets: "What is happening in the Aegean is outrageous and unbelievable. We're spending billions on weapons. You--to violate our airspace, we--to intercept you.

"We have the most modern aerial weapons systems--and yet, on the ground, we can't catch traffickers who drown innocent people."

It was unclear whether Mr Tsipras was conveying a conversation he had had with Mr Davutoglu.

Mr Tsipras's tweets were later deleted from his English Twitter account, where instead a tweet read: "We are in the same neighborhood and we have to talk honestly so we can reach solutions #EUTurkey."

But the comments were still up on his Greek account.

Mr Davutoglu chose to respond just once on his Twitter account, saying: "Comments on pilots by @atsipras seem hardly in tune with the spirit of the day. Alexis: let us focus on our positive agenda."


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One Twitter user called the Greek Analyst noted: "Tsipras showing off his twitter "diplomacy" skills. #Greece #EUTurkey."

A later posting read: "Tonight's twitter shenanigans by #Tsipras only point towards diplomatic amateurism & lack of foreign policy direction. There's no plan."

Another user, Apostolis Fotiadis, said the uploading and deleting of the tweets was "a communication disaster".