Turkey ups the pres­sure

For­eign min­is­ter de­mands ex­tra­di­tion of eight ‘traitors’ seek­ing asy­lum in Greece

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The af­fair of the eight Turk­ish mil­i­tary of­fi­cers who es­caped to Greece by he­li­copter fol­low­ing last week­end’s failed Turk­ish coup is turn­ing into an in­creas­ingly tough diplo­matic is­sue for Athens af­ter Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu yes­ter­day de­manded that Greece ex­tra­dite the “traitors.”

A day af­ter Turkey sus­pended the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights, Cavu­soglu in­creased the pres­sure on Athens by say­ing that the eight of­fi­cers’ ap­pli­ca­tions for po­lit­i­cal asy­lum in Greece should be re­jected.

“The coup plot­ters are ask­ing for po­lit­i­cal asy­lum,” he said. “They can­not be in­cluded un­der po­lit­i­cal asy­lum.

“What we ex­pect from Greek au­thor­i­ties is that they co­op­er­ate and send th­ese traitors back,” Cavu­soglu told Turkey’s state news chan­nel TRT.

The Greek For­eign Min­istry did not com­ment on Cavu­soglu’s re­marks but sources in­di­cated that the is­sue has fu­eled con­cern within the ranks of the gov­ern­ment.

The eight Turk­ish mil­i­tary of­fi­cers were yes­ter­day moved from Kavala, where they had been in cus­tody, to the po­lice precinct near the Olympic Vil­lage in western At­tica. Ini­tially, it ap­peared that they were moved as their asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions are to be ex­am­ined in the cap­i­tal. How­ever, sources in­di­cated later in the day that their re­lo­ca­tion was or­dered by a top gov­ern­ment official for fear of es­ca­la­tion of ten­sions in Alexan­droupoli, where they at­tended court on Thurs­day, as mem­bers of the lo­cal Mus­lim com­mu­nity had staged a protest, call­ing them traitors.

The court in Alexan­droupoli passed down two-month prison sen­tences to the eight of­fi­cers af­ter find­ing them guilty of il­le­gally en­ter­ing the coun­try. The sen­tences were sus­pended for three years but the of­fi­cers were de­tained pend­ing the out­come of their claims for po­lit­i­cal asy­lum.

The Greek mil­i­tary and coast guard re­main on standby to en­sure that par­tic­i­pants in Turkey’s failed coup who re­main un­ac­counted for do not at­tempt to sneak into Greece via the Aegean.

Mean­while, top of­fi­cials of the For­eign Min­istry and the Na­tional De­fense Gen­eral Staff (GEETHA) are meet­ing for reg­u­lar up­dates on the sit­u­a­tion in the Aegean.

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