NEWS

Ankara ups ante over eight Turkish officers

TAGS: Turkey, Diplomacy

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Friday responded sternly to a Greek court decision releasing one of eight Turkish servicemen seeking asylum in Greece, declaring that the country was becoming a “safe haven” for Turkey’s enemies.

Yildirim said it was “unacceptable” for people who took part in the coup attempt in the summer of 2016 to be protected by Greece. “Unfortunately, recently, criminals of the FETO organization have started seeing Greece as a safe haven,” he said, referring to what Ankara describes as a terrorist group led by exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen. “I hope they will extradite the members of this organization,” he said, adding that Turkish authorities “do not desire a negative impact on Greek-Turkish relations because of members of the FETO organization.”

His comments came a day after Greece’s Council of State ordered the release of one of the eight Turkish servicemen who fled to Greece by military helicopter in July 2016.

Also on Friday Turkey’s Foreign Ministry accused Athens of “sheltering coup plotters.” It added that the Greek Supreme Court’s rejection of Ankara’s demand for the extradition of the eight “has paved the way for such an outcome which offends the public conscience.” “Our determination for the extradition of the fugitive putschists and for them to be tried in Turkey continues,” it said.

Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik also attacked Greece in a post on Twitter, accusing it of “provocations in the Mediterranean and Aegean in which its minister of defense is also involved.”

In comments to Skai Television on Friday morning, Greece’s Alternate Defense Minister Fotis Kouvelis expressed concerns that tensions in the Aegean will persist following a decision by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to call snap polls for June 24.

He also confirmed that Greece is to acquire two French frigates on a five-year lease this summer, as reported by Kathimerini.

US Ambassador in Greece Geoffrey Pyatt on Friday expressed his “confidence in Greece as a pillar of stability” and underlined the “great respect my US military colleagues have for the Greek military’s [ability] to tackle numerous challenges in [the] complex Greek neighborhood.”

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