Athens hopeful for soldiers despite court refusal


Athens is hopeful that the anticipated repeal on Wednesday of a state of emergency in Turkey, which was imposed following a thwarted coup two years ago, might facilitate Greek efforts to bring home two Greek soldiers who have been in a Turkish prison since they accidentally crossed the border in March. 

There is said to be optimism in Athens despite Tuesday’s refusal by a Turkish court of a fifth appeal by the two soldiers for their release. Turkish judicial officials said the case was still being investigated. 

However, Greek authorities hope that the lifting of the state of emergency in Turkey will also make it harder for Turkish authorities to continue detaining the two Greek soldiers indefinitely without charge. 

In comments to Real FM, Alternate Defense Minister Fotis Kouvelis said that Athens was continuing to press Ankara for the soldiers’ release, noting that their continued detention was “a political choice by Turkey.” “The matter of the illegal detention of our two soldiers is part of a broader strategy of tension that Turkey will continue to pursue against Greece.” 

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras broached the issue of the soldiers’ detention during his talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of a NATO summit last week. In a meeting that government officials described as “difficult,” Tsipras asked Erdogan to ensure that the process moves forward as quickly as possible.