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Greece: Turkish coup suspects 'not welcome'

February 5, 2019

Greek courts have rejected Turkey's request to extradite eight soldiers accused of taking part in a 2016 coup attempt. Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan expects "more cooperation" from Greece in regards to their extradition.

Turkish soldiers in Greece
Image: picture-alliance/AA/A. Mehmet

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Tuesday that coup suspects are "not welcome" in Greece, but the case regarding eight Turkish servicemen who fled the country after a failed 2016 coup attempt on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a judiciary matter.

"On the thorny issue of the eight soldiers, Greece respects the decisions delivered by the judiciary," Tsipras said in Ankara after meeting with Erdogan.

"Coup plotters are not welcome in Greece, however what is more important is to strengthen our cooperation on the sector of security."

The soldiers, who fled to Greece seeking asylum, have been a source of tension between the two Aegean Sea neighbors in recent years. But Tsipras said Greece and Turkey have agreed to deescalate tensions and initiate confidence building measures.

"I am very pleased that communication channels (with Turkey) are open so that we can take more constructive steps," said Tsipras, adding that any differences between the two "can and must be solved with dialogue."

Erdogan echoed Tsipras' sentiments, saying disputes between Greece and Turkey could be resolved "peacefully."

"We believe every problem could be resolved through dialogue," Erdogan said, adding that Turkey expects "more cooperation from our neighbor Greece" over the extradition of coup suspects.

Added bounty

The comments came after Turkey put up bounties of four million Turkish liras (€673,000) for the capture of each of eight soldiers it alleges took part in the coup attempt.

Greece's Shadow Foreign Minister has described the bounty as "a provocative move."

"It has placed a bounty on the eight Turkish servicemen, disregarding the final decisions of the independent Greek justice system which has granted them asylum."

Turkey has repeatedly called for the soldiers to be extradited, a request Greek courts have continuously rejected. Judges have argued that the alleged plotters would likely not get a fair trial given the human rights track record in the country.

Read more: Turkish court rejects European rights court ruling to release top Kurdish politician

One soldier was granted asylum in 2017 — a decision Ankara strongly condemned. Three of the eight alleged plotters have since been granted asylum. The others are expected to receive the same treatment.

Although they deny involvement in the attempted coup, the names of the eight soldiers were among 74 other alleged plotters recently added to the list of Turkey's most wanted 'terrorists'.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has fired more than 15,000 personnel from the armed forces since the failed coup. Thousands of others remain under investigation. Many are accused of links to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan blames for the incident.

dv/aw (AP, dpa)

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