Ankara has dismissed comments earlier this week by Greece’s Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who said that the arrest of two Greek border guards in early March had been engineered by the Turkish leadership.
In a statement on Friday (that was only available in Turkish at the time of going to press), the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that the suggestion “illustrates [Kammenos’s] irresponsible and unfriendly behavior.”
The ministry said that the reasons for the continued detention of the two soldiers – a lieutenant and a sergeant – have already been explained to the Greek authorities.
It added that Greek efforts to keep the issue on the agenda “with meaningless and unfounded allegations” are designed to deflect attention from Greece’s failure, it said, to meet its obligations regarding the extradition of the eight Turkish servicemen who sought asylum in the country following the botched coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.
Speaking to Real FM radio on Wednesday, Kammenos said the Greek soldiers were arrested so that they could at some point be exchanged for the eight Turkish servicemen.
“I do not think this was a random act. They found an opportunity on a night with snow to put their plan into action,” he said.
Kammenos has repeatedly described the pair, who were arrested after crossing the border in bad weather, as “hostages.”
Greek officials have repeatedly ruled out the possibility of a swap.