Political firestorm over Turkish servicemen


Main opposition New Democracy on Tuesday described as “opportunistic” the government’s handling of the issue concerning the eight Turkish servicemen that Ankara wants extradited to Turkey. 

On Saturday, the government submitted a request for the cancellation of a decision by a relevant committee of the Migration Ministry to grant asylum to one of the eight servicemen wanted in Turkey for their alleged involvement in the coup attempt in 2016.

The move prompted opposition parties to accuse the government of interfering with justice and attempting to lay the groundwork for their extradition to Turkey.

“The procedure for granting asylum to the servicemen has not been finalized but the government has shown its intent,” said New Democracy spokeswoman Maria Spyraki.

“The government has for weeks failed to dismiss [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s claims that Tsipras promised to prepare the ground for the servicemen’s extradition.”

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos on Tuesday said that a decision by the Supreme Court last January not to extradite the eight servicemen is irrevocable, but clarified that the granting of asylum is something completely different.

“They cannot be extradited, regardless of the outcome of their asylum applications,” he said. “There is nothing secret here.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with Real FM, Tsipras said that a session of the Greek-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council scheduled to take place in the first half of this year should go ahead despite disagreements between the two countries.

“The worst thing one can do is not communicate, not have channels of communication and contact, not try and tackle existing problems,” Tsipras said.

“We do not have this kind of logic, we have proven this and I believe it is good that we have opened up channels of communication despite our existing differences,” he added.