Turkey has reacted with anger after the Greek Supreme Court ruled against extraditing eight Turkish soldiers accused of involvement in an attempted coup during the summer of 2016.
Turkey called Greece’s decision “politically motivated” and said Greece was failing in the “fight against terrorism”.
The eight men— two majors, four captains and two noncommissioned officers— fled in a helicopter to Greece after last July’s coup attempt but claimed they were not involved.
“We protest this decision, which prevents those people who had an active role in a coup attempt that targeted democratic order in Turkey, martyred 248 citizens from among security forces and civilians, injured 2,193 citizens, and also made an attempt on the life of our president from standing before the Turkish judiciary,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Greece, which has experienced coups in its past, unfortunately has fallen into the position of a country protecting coup plotters.”
Turkey has repeatedly claimed that the eight soldiers were involved in the plot but have offered no evidence.
The presiding Greek judge Giorgos Sakkas said the men were unlikely to receive a fair trial in Turkey. The Greek court cited international human rights rules that must supersede political relations.
In retaliation to the Greek Supreme Court’s ruling, an Istanbul court approved a request from prosecutors for an arrest warrant for the eight soldiers.
The BBC’s Selin Girit in Istanbul wrote that Turkish-Greek relations have gone through very difficult phases in the past, but the general understanding was that those days were over.
Now, Girit claims, “relations between the two countries risk a dramatic turn for the worse.”
Ankara’s heavy-handed response in contesting the Greek Supreme Court’s ruling with the issuing of an arrest warrant is a clear accusation to Athens of a failure to co-operate.
The extradition bid had become a source of tension between Ankara and Athens in the last few months. Several closed-door meetings reportedly took place between the two countries’ foreign ministry officials but no solution could be reached.
The case has presented a diplomatic dilemma for Greece and created new tensions between the two Nato allies.