Erdoğan calls for increased cooperation from Greece on extradition of servicemen

Turkey expects increased cooperation from neighbouring Greece on the extradition of eight servicemen Ankara accuses of planning the July 2016 coup attempt, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said during a press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

‘’We are two countries who know very well the bloody face of terror,’’ Erdoğan said. ‘’We have renewed our request for their extradition [of the servicemen]. We are awaiting further cooperation.’’

Erdoğan also called on the EU for further assistance with Turkey’s 4 million migrant population during the conference.

The two leaders appeared before the press following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, where Tsipras arrived for a two-day visit on Tuesday.

The Greek prime minister stressed that the issue of the soldiers who fled to Greece is a matter of the judiciary, underlining the Greek administration’s respect for judicial independence.

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

The eight servicemen are wanted in Turkey for allegedly participating in a plot to overthrow the government of Erdoğan and are accused of membership in a terrorist organisation headed by cleric Fethullah Gülen. Greece has repeatedly refused Turkey’s extradition of the servicemen, citing their inability to receive a fair trial in the country.

The Turkish Interior Ministry posted a reward totalling 5.6 million euros for the return of the servicemen on Tuesday, hours before Tsipras and Erdoğan’s meeting.

Ankara accuses Gülen of orchestrating the July 2016 coup attempt and has since pursued a world-wide crackdown on his followers, including in neighbouring Greece where over 5,000 Gülenists have sought asylum.

The Greek Prime Minister also noted that the two countries’ defence ministers are set to meet soon, while lauding ongoing efforts for the resumption of peace talks in Cyprus.

Tsipras, while noting that differences between the two counties must be solved with dialogue, called for ‘’respect for international law’’ in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey, the only country to recognize the Turkish administration on the northern side of the divided island, has promised to stop what it sees as unilateral moves by the Greek administration in southern Cyptus to exploit the potentially rich energy resources around the island amid an ongoing standoff over hydrocarbon rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Tsipras said Ankara and Athens had agreed to de-escalate tension in the Aegean Sea, where Greece has spoken out against increased Turkish violation of its airspace.

Erdoğan congratulated Tsipras on his upcoming visit to visit to the Halki Orthodox theological seminary on the island of Heybeliada off Istanbul on Wednesday. Tsipras will be the first serving Greek prime minister to do so.

The seminary, which trained Orthodox church leaders, has been closed since 1971, with Greek officials repeatedly calling on the Turkish government to reopen it.

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