Turkey has criticized Greek authorities after a controversial court ruling that went against Ankara’s demand for the extradition of the eight Gülenist soldiers who were involved in a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 against the democratically elected government.
On Friday, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Turkey will take the necessary measures against Greece following the court’s failure to extradite Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) soldiers to Turkey, including cancelling the readmission deal with Greece, which allows the latter to return illegal migrants, who traveled through Turkey, back to Turkey to be processed before being sent back to their country of origin, news channel TRT Haber reported.
“We are evaluating what we can do. There is a migration deal we signed, including a readmission deal with Greece, and we are evaluating what we can do, including the possible cancellation of the deal,” Çavuşoğlu added.
Ankara has argued that the Greek court’s ruling was a political, rather than a legal decision, noting that it will have unavoidable implications for bilateral relations. After Ankara’s response to Greece, including the re-evaluation of the migrant deal, an EU spokeswoman said she is confident that cooperation with Turkey regarding migration will continue to hold firm.
Turkey and Greece have played an important role in handling Europe’s worst migration crisis in decades, and the EU depends on Ankara to enforce the deal to stem mass migration into Europe.
“They’re not just petty criminals,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that the soldiers attempted to kill President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The foreign minister continued to say that Turkey cannot view a country that supports terrorists and coup supporters positively, asserting that Turkey will take definitive action.
The number of illegal migrant arrivals on the Greek islands has dropped significantly since the agreement came into effect. The number of migrants who illegally crossed into Greece dropped from 7,000 people per day in 2015 to around 20 people per day in 2016.”The Greek public believe that the opening of the sea border with Turkey for migrants and refugees is an existing threat. It could destablize the entire situation and would be an extremely negative thing for Greco-Turkish diplomatic relations since the northern borders have been shut down and passage is impossible. As fear and anxiety escalate, so could xenophobia, not only in Greece but throughout the EU if the borders are to be opened again,” Nikos Georgiadis, analyst for Athens Voice, told Daily Sabah.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, did not explain how a second request would help nullify the Greek court’s decision. Interpol has also been asked to issue international arrest warrants for the eight, the official said.
Meanwhile, earlier on Friday, Turkey’s Ministry of Justice submitted a second extradition request to Greece for the return of the FETÖ-linked officers.
On Thursday, the Foreign Ministry protested the Greek Supreme Court’s decision not to extradite eight former military personnel who fled to Greece following the failed coup attempt on July 15, accusing Greece of “protecting coup plotters.”
“We are protesting this decision, which prevents these individuals… from appearing before an independent Turkish court,” a statement released by the Foreign Ministry read.”This latest decision by Greek authorities, which have so far prevented the members of terrorist organizations from targeting Turkey, especially the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), an armed far-left group and the PKK, from appearing before a court, has once again made it clear that Greece, as an ally and neighboring country, avoids fulfilling the basic requirements of the counterterrorism fight and crime prevention,” the statement further read, also highlighting that the Greek court’s decision contradicts international legal norms and principles.
Greece suffered from a military coup from 1967 to 1974, known as the Regime of the Colonels.
“As a country that has suffered from coups in the past, Greece has unfortunately become a country that protects coup plotters,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry noted.
The statement added that all remedies available to alleviate the Greek court’s decision will be used and attempts for extradition and prosecution would continue.
Eight soldiers; namely Maj. Ahmet Güzel, Maj. Gencay Büyük, Capt. Feridun Çoban, Sgt. Mesut Fırat, Capt. Abdullah Yetik, Capt. Uğur Uçan, Capt. Süleyman Özkaynakçı and Sgt. Bilal Kurugül fled Turkey after a coup attempt failed to materialize last year. The putsch attempt left at least 248 people dead and more than 2,000 injured.
The disgraced military personnel arrived in Greece in a stolen Black Hawk helicopter belonging to the Turkish military and immediately requested asylum.
Before their asylum request was presented before a Greek court, the men were sentenced to a two-month suspended jail sentence for illegal entry into Greece. Ankara has formally requested the extradition of the FETÖ members, who were allegedly involved in the coup attempt, to face trial in Turkey. * Contributed by Angelos Berberakis