Greece should send 8 soldiers back to justice

Turkey’s expectation is immediate extradition of the military personnel, benefiting bilateral ties, says Turkish Embassy

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Turkey’s expectation is immediate extradition of the military personnel, benefiting bilateral ties, says Turkish Embassy

By Magda Panaotsopoulou

ATHENS

Turkey expects the immediate extradition of eight Turkish military personnel who fled to Greece following last Friday’s failed coup, to face the fair meting out of justice in Turkey, said Turkey’s Embassy in Athens Wednesday.

Saying that remarks to the press on Tuesday by Turkish Ambassador to Greece Kerim Uras regarding the case have been distorted by the media, the Turkish Embassy issued the below clarification:

“The Ambassador emphasized that the Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece in a military helicopter after the weekend coup attempt would have a fair and transparent trial back home.

“He stated that Turkey’s expectation is an immediate extradition of the military personnel back to Turkey. This would have very positive repercussions on the relations of both countries. On the other hand, a negative decision might cause negative feelings in the Turkish public opinion and naturally that this is something he does not desire, as his primary duty as Ambassador is to improve bilateral relations and keep things stable.

“The Ambassador also thanked the Greek authorities at the highest level for the timely support and cooperation they gave in face of the coup attempt, and in our efforts to reinstate democracy and the rule of law.”

On Tuesday, Uras told reporters that the decision to let the helicopter carrying the soldiers land at Alexandroupolis airport was a “mistake to begin with,” in light of what was happening in Turkey.

He stated it was clear that they were fleeing the law and had participated in the criminal coup that was underway, “so there was a high probability that they were terrorists fleeing justice.”

Uras’s previously told reporters that if Greece did not extradite the soldiers “would not help” the relations between Turkey and Greece but his remarks were distorted by some Greek media.

International aviation rules require that landing permission be given in case of a distress call from an airplane, which needs a runway to land, but the same is not true of helicopters, he said.

If the distress call the Turkish copter made that night had been genuine, it should have been advised to land as quickly as possible in its own country, rather than been given permission to fly to Alexandroupolis.

Even after the copter’s landing in Alexandroupolis, Uras said, it would have been preferable if they had been deported without any lengthy process.

“When the authorities discovered that these people were criminals that took part in the coup, in uniform, they should have been sent back,” he told reporters.

“They must be returned. If the trial is concluded quickly and in a positive way, in other words if the eight Turkish soldiers are returned as quickly as possible, this will be something very positive in our bilateral relations. If not, this will not help at all,” he said.

According to diplomatic sources cited in Greek daily Kathimerini, following Uras’ remarks to reporters, he told the Greek Foreign Ministry in a telephone conversation that his statements had been distorted.

Uras added, “They will face a fair trial. It will be totally transparent,” contrary to reports claiming that the eight soldiers would have no chance of justice in Turkey.

The personnel are to appear in a Greek court on Thursday to face charges of illegal entry into Greece and violating Greek airspace.

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