Greece is trying to avoid tension with Turkey over the extradition of the eight military men who allegedly participated in the coup attempt and sought asylum on Greek soil.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that Ankara has demanded of Athens to return the eight soldiers who fled by helicopter and landed on Alexandroupolis airport near the Turkish border.
Greek authorities have identified the fugitives as two majors, four captains and two first-class sergeants of the Turkish army.
“We demand the urgent return of eight traitor soldiers who escaped to Greece on a helicopter,” Çavuşoğlu stated on HaberTurk television. The minister said that Greek authorities were ready to cooperate.
However, Athens will examine the request for political asylum made by the eight Turkish soldiers. The fact that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls for the return of the death penalty, has made several Greek officials reluctant over the immediate extradition of the eight men. Their asylum application will be examined under international law.
The eight soldiers deny allegations that they participated in the coup attempt, but were forced to flee because Turkish police started firing at them. The Turkish soldiers’ lawyer Ilia Marinaki said the men fear for their lives and the lives of their families in Turkey.
The Greek government is trying to find a diplomatic solution to the problem with officials saying that they are for more democracy in Turkey. In a meeting held on Sunday, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Toscas and representatives of the Defence Ministry discussed security in the region and the position Athens must hold towards the situation in Turkey.
The Greek officials decided to unequivocally condemn the coup attempt and support the rule of law in Turkey. Greek authorities also want to maintain open channels of communication with Turkey.
Greek Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Vitsas said on Mega television that the eight men had attempted to illegally topple the democratically elected Turkish government, therefore the Ankara argument that they should be sent back to Turkey to stand trial was well-founded.