Two Greek soldiers return home following Turkey release
Two Greek soldiers held in Turkish prison since March returned to Greece by government jet on Wednesday after their release pending trial, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported.
The soldiers, Lieutenant Aggelos Mitretodis and Dimitros Kouklatzis, a non-commissioned officer, had been held on suspicion of military espionage, but said they had strayed across the border into Turkey’s northwestern province of Edirne during bad weather.
Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos telephoned his Turkish counterpart to express his pleasure at the release of the soldiers who have been at the centre of an ongoing spat between the two countries.
“This is a great day for our motherland … I hope that their release ... will herald a new day in Greek-Turkish relations. We can live together peacefully, for the benefit of both our peoples,” Kammenos told reporters.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said their release was an “an act of justice”.
“I want to congratulate and thank (the two men) and their families for their fortitude, patience and trust in our efforts, which were finally justified,” Tsipras said.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was delighted by news of the Greek soldiers’ imminent release. “Turkey has nothing to fear from its European neighbours. We want to see a democratic, stable and prosperous Turkey,” he said on Twitter.