Officials in Athens have welcomed with relief Thursday’s statement by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, according to which two military attaches who had been posted in Greece fled to Italy over the weekend in the wake of last month’s failed coup in Turkey.
“Now the problem is on the Italian side,” an aide to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras commented.
There had been fears that the two attaches could be in Greece and could lodge claims for political asylum.
Such a move would have likely strained bilateral ties further following appeals for political asylum lodged by eight Turkish military personnel who escaped from Turkey on a military helicopter a day after the failed coup.
In comments to Turkey’s NTV channel, Cavusoglu said the attaches – identified as colonels Halis Tunc and Ilhan Yasitli – left Greece on August 6, taking a ferry to Italy. “We are working on bringing these traitors back to Turkey,”
Cavusoglu said. Noting that Tunc’s brother lives in the Netherlands, Cavusolgu said, “We are working with both the Netherlands and Italy.”
Yasitli is reportedly the overall military attache and Tunc the naval attache but their accreditations in Athens are said to have been canceled.
Turkish authorities have conducted a massive purge of the military, judiciary and civil service in the wake of the failed coup.