An op-ed in the online edition of Germany’s Spiegel on Thursday accused Greece of “sacrificing” the human rights of eight Turkish servicemen seeking political asylum in their homeland over the failed coup of 2016 in order to appease Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Written by Giorgos Christides and titled “When Erdogan’s favor is more important than human rights,” the op-ed accuses the government of Alexis Tsipras of interfering with a decision by an independent asylum committee granting protection to one of the eight servicemen facing treason charges in Turkey over their alleged role in the botched coup.
The case is a “gaping wound” in relations between Athens and Ankara, which has made repeated requests for the eight servicemen’s extradition, Christides writes.
The government has taken recourse to challenge the committee’s decision in the “national interest,” arguing that granting asylum to the eight officers would harm already strained Greek-Turkish relations.
“The Greek government also seems willing to believe Erdogan’s promise that the soldiers in Turkey would be given a fair trial – even though the Supreme Court in Athens had come to the opposite conclusion,” he adds, referring to a decision last January by the country’s highest court questioning Turkey’s human rights performance on evidence provided by international advocacy groups.
“It even looks as if Athens has accepted the accusations of Turkish authorities against ‘the eight,’” Christides writes, referring to comments made on Tuesday by Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas, who said that “there is strong evidence” to suggest that the servicemen may have been involved in the coup.
Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis, meanwhile, said last week that he was exploring the possibility of their eight Turks being tried in Greece.