Pressure “on multiple levels” is being applied on Ankara for the release of two Greek soldiers held since early March, Greece’s alternate defense minister, Fotis Kouvelis, said on Tuesday after a Turkish court rejected an appeal for their release for a fifth time.
Speaking on Real FM radio, Kouvelis accused Turkish courts of failing to provide a “normal environment on a judicial and legal level” for the two soldiers, who have been held in custody without charge since early March for accidentally straying across the Greek-Turkish border while on patrol.
“This is justice – in inverted commas – in Turkey,” Kouvelis said. “These are things that are completely foreign to the western judicial culture.”
The alternate defense minister also ruled out scenarios that Lieutenant Angelos Mitretodis and Sergeant Dimitris Kouklatzis could be traded for eight Turkish servicemen who fled to Greece in the wake of the botched coup of 2016, saying that they have been granted asylum under national, European and international law.
Asked whether Greece could seek greater support from NATO in pushing for the two soldiers’ release, Kouvelis said that the issue was addressed, “in the most forceful way possible,” by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos at least week’s summit of the alliance.