European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has called on Turkey to release the two Greek servicemen currently detained in Edirne.
The statement was made during a joint press conference with European Council President Donald Tusk and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following the EU-Turkey leaders’ meeting in Varna, Bulgaria on Monday.
Juncker said Ankara must make an effort to resolve the issue of the two border patrol officers, who are detained for crossing into Turkish territory earlier this month.
He expressed the EU’s hope that the issue would be resolved, if possible, before the Greek Orthodox Easter (April 6).
“We trust that the Turkish authorities will resolve this issue in a just way, and I hope this issue will be resolved before the Orthodox Easter this year,” Juncker said.
Juncker also said that if Turkey wishes to make progress on becoming a European Union member, it needs to improve its relations with member states within the EU, in particular with Greece and Cyprus.
The Commission president stressed that he “was never in favor of stopping negotiations with Turkey” and underlined he supports the country’s efforts to join the EU.
Gov’t sources: EU sends clear message to Turkey
The EU message to Turkey that it needs to improve its relations with Greece and Cyprus was clearly stated for the first time, government sources said late on Monday, commenting on the EU-Turkey summit in Varna, according to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA).
“It is the first time that the EU is sending a clear message to Turkey that EU-Turkey relations cannot progress unless there is progress in its relations with Greece and Cyprus,” the sources said.
According to AMNA, the sources added that Juncker and Tusk spent 20 minutes discussing the issue of the two detained Greek border patrol officers with Erdogan and called for their immediate release, although there was no commitment on the issue from the Turkish side.