Hundreds of people gathered at two separate rallies in northern Greece on Sunday afternoon calling for the release by Turkish authorities of two Greek soldiers who were arrested earlier this month for accidentally straying across the border.
The fist rally was under way in Oresteiada, the hometown of Sergeant Dimitris Kouklatzis, 27, who was arrested on March 1 along with Lieutenant Angelos Mitretodis, a 25-year-old from Kastoria, after the pair lost their bearings while on patrol in a storm and crossed the Turkey border without permission.
In Thessaloniki, the protest was being held outside the northern port city’s Turkish Consulate and was organized by local residents who hail from border areas like Oresteiada and Didymoteicho.
Separately, the Oresteiada cyclists’ club held a bicycle procession to the Kastanies border crossing early on Sunday to demand the soldiers’ return.
“We want to send the message that we live in peace and harmony with our neighbors in this area,” the club said in an announcement on its website, adding that Turkey’s decision to remand the two soldiers in pre-trial detention was “out of place.”