Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on June 13 that he did not promise to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that he would extradite eight former Turkish soldiers who fled the country a day after the July 2016 coup attempt.
“I couldn’t have promised about this. I’m aware of the principle of separation of powers in a country like Greece. I haven’t been able to make a promise to the leader of a foreign country about a ruling that the judicial authorities would make,” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Tsipras as telling Greek state television ERT.
The soldiers had arrived in Greece’s Thrace region aboard a military helicopter hours after the botched putsch two years ago. In January this year, the Greek Supreme Court ruled against extraditing the former soldiers, who were released in another ruling last week.
Turkey suspended its bilateral migrant readmission deal with Greece on June 7 in response to the court’s decision.
Speaking on the extradition of eight soldiers to Turkey, Tsipras said on June 13 that he did not promise to send them back in his meetings with Erdoğan and there could be a “misunderstanding.”
Tsipras also said Turkey had a “decisive role” in the migrant crisis and therefore “deserves to be respected in this regard.”
The Greek prime minister used more pointed words about gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, which has become another point of contention in recent months.
He described Turkey’s attitude toward a drilling ship of Italian energy firm ENI, which caused a row between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, as “unacceptable.”
Touching on the detention of the two Greek soldiers in Turkey, Tsipras said they had done “everything they could in the diplomatic field” and now they had to be patient.
The Greek soldiers were remanded into custody on March 2 for entering a prohibited military zone in Turkey’s Edirne province, which borders Greece.