Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Turkey Threatens to Cancel Migrant Readmission Deal after Greece Ruling | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55366415

Eight Turkish soldiers, who fled to Greece in a helicopter and requested political asylum after a failed military coup against the government, are escorted by police officers as they arrive at the Supreme Court in Athens, Greece, January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Turkey has demanded the retrial of eight soldiers who fled to Greece after a failed coup last year and threatened to take measures, including scrapping a migration deal with Athens, after the Greek Supreme Court rejected an extradition request.

“We are now considering what we are going to do,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with state TRT Haber broadcaster.

“We have a readmission agreement between us and Greece, with the European Union. We are going to take necessary steps, including the cancellation of this readmission agreement,” he added.

The Greek courth on Thursday blocked the extradition of the soldiers, who have sought political asylum, saying they feared for their lives in Turkey. Ankara says they were involved in the July 15 coup attempt and branded them traitors.

Cavusoglu said that the ruling was not judicial but a “political decision”.

“We demanded that the eight soldiers be tried again. This is a political decision, Greece is protecting and hosting coup plotters,” Cavusoglu told state broadcaster TRT Haber on Friday.

The suspects — who landed a helicopter in Greece a day after the botched putsch and asked for asylum — were also ordered to be released from police custody.

Earlier Friday, the Turkish justice ministry submitted a second extradition request to Greece for the return of the officers, state-run news agency Anadolu said.

Subsequently, a European Union spokeswoman said it was confident its cooperation with Turkey on migration will continue to hold firm.

Relations between Greece and Turkey, neighbors and NATO allies, have improved over the years but they remain at odds over territorial disputes and ethnically split Cyprus. In 1996, they almost reached the brink of war over an uninhabited islet.

The two countries play an important role in the handling of Europe’s worst migration crisis in decades and the EU depends on Ankara to enforce a deal to stem mass migration to Europe.