Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos told a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Tuesday that the arrest by Turkish authorities to two Greek soldiers who accidentally strayed across the border should also concern the European Union.
“The two Greek soldiers were on a patrol in an area that is known to be used as a crossing by undocumented migrants and smugglers,” Kammenos said referring to the northeastern Evros border where the incident occurred on Thursday when the two soldiers crossed a few meters into Turkish territory and were arrested.
“The arrest of the two Greek soldiers by Turkey in a border incident, which would customarily be settled in talks between commanders, has effectively led to an impasse with Turkey after the prosecutor’s refusal for the two soldiers to remain in the [Greek] consulate until their case is tried,” Kammenos said.
On Monday, a Turkish court rejected an appeal for the soldiers’ release from a prison in Edirne pending trial.
The Greek defense minister suggested that the incident could affect already strained relations between Brussels and Ankara, as well as going against NATO’s principle of cooperation.
“Turkey is a member of NATO and an ally of Greece in NATO, and such incidents are solved peacefully via talks between the two armed forces,” the Greek defense minister said.