Turkey’s detention of Greek soldiers illegal, says Greek parliamentary speaker

Greek Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis on Sunday called for the release of two Greek soldiers imprisoned in Turkey since straying over the border in March and described their detention as illegal, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported.

The detention of the pair, who have been charged with espionage, has increased already tense relations between Greece and Turkey. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called the soldiers hostages following a meeting with European Union leaders in Brussels on 24th April and accused Turkey of using them as “hostages” to bargain over eight Turkish servicemen who sought refuge in Greece after the 2016 coup attempt. Turkey says the eight were involved in the coup attempt and has applied for their extradition several times.

"Relations with our neighbour Turkey occasionally go through taxing periods despite the stable framework of coexistence and debate that has been restored between our countries in recent years," Voutsis told Portuguese newspaper Diaro de Noticias.

"The testing times, which occasionally include indirect questioning of our country's sovereign rights and international treaties by members of Turkey's current leadership are a reflection of the fluid and transitional situation in which Turkey finds itself geopolitically today," Kathimerini reported Voutsis as saying.

Voutsis called on Ankara to respect international treaties and agreements between the two countries, while asking for the European Union and other international organizations to "take a position in favour of respect for international law."

Voutsis also addressed the issue of the eight Turkish servicemen, saying the issue "is in no way related" to that of the two Greek soldiers as the latter have been detained illegally by Turkey for three months without charges being brought against them.