Mar 30 2018

Erdoğan’s statements on Greek soldiers reveals rule of law deficit – Kathimerini

Recent statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that drew an equivalence between Greek soldiers arrested after trespassing on Turkish territory and Turkish soldiers who have sought asylum in Greece demonstrates the receding rule of law in Turkey, wrote Nikos Konstandaras for the Greek newspaper Kathimerini.

Two Greek soldiers were captured in early March after being found on Turkish territory. The Greek side insists that the soldiers had strayed across the border during rough weather, however, Turkey has rejected their release and ruled to keep them in detention until their verdict is decided.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accused Turkey of using the soldiers as hostages, and speculation has mounted that Ankara expects Greece to comply with its extradition requests for eight Turkish soldiers who allegedly took part in the failed July 2016 coup attempt before releasing the two Greeks.

“It is not consistent with justice [to have] those who insist so much on the issue of the two soldiers avoid any reference to the extradition of the Turkish servicemen, who were involved in the coup and then fled to Greece,” Konstandaras quoted President Erdoğan as saying, before adding that he was “not linking the two issues.”

Erdoğan referred in his statement to EU leaders who had slammed Turkey for its treatment of the Greek soldiers in the runup to last Monday's bilateral meeting in Varna, Bulgaria.

“Contrary to what he states, the Turkish president is linking the two issues, and also revealing his methods: He will do and say whatever suits his interests without considering the essence of the issues,” wrote Konstandaras.

“There is no common ground between the two issues other than the fact that in both cases the Greek and Turkish soldiers are being prosecuted by the Turkish authorities,” added the writer, going on to comment that under normal circumstances the return of the Greek soldiers would have been dealt with quietly.

As such, the two cases are both instances of the Turkish president "undermining the rule of law in his country," wrote Konstandaras.