Eight Turkish soldiers who sought asylum in Greece following the failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey should be returned, said Greece’s former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Greek newspaper Ekathimerini reported on Friday.
The eight fled to Greece in a helicopter in July 2016 as it became clear the coup attempt had failed. They were freed pending trial this June and are reported to be living in secret locations with strong police protection amid fears that Turkey will try to snatch them. At least 3 of the 8 have subsequently been granted asylum in Greece.
Bakoyannis made her comments on a Greek TV station, saying that she was certain the soldiers had been involved in the coup attempt and adding, “When a country has on its soil people who have declared their intention to murder the president of Turkey, and they have a proven history of murders, you send them back.”
But she said it would be wrong to make a link between the 8 and 2 Greek soldiers detained by Turkey since allegedly crossing the land border between the two countries by mistake in bad weather in March.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has described them as “hostages” and Kathimerini reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tried to link their fate to those of the 8 Turkish soldiers when the pair met during last week’s NATO summit in Brussels.
"I would never accept this and Tsipras correctly did not accept the offsetting of the two cases," Bakoyannis said, adding that the 2 Greek soldiers, "did nothing except cross three meters over the border," and calling any linking of the 2 cases "a joke."
She also said Greece should return eight alleged members of the Marxist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party (DHKP-C) terrorist group, arrested in Athens ahead of a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year, to Turkey.