Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday called for peace and cooperation with Greece but also asked to exchange the two Greek soldiers with the eight Turkish servicemen who sought asylum in Greece.
According to Anadolu Agency, Erdogan spoke on Turkey’s NTV television saying, “They asked us to give the two Greek soldiers back. And we told them there are eight soldiers who tried to make a coup. First, you have to give them to us. If you give them to us then we can put the others on the table. Because they crossed the border.”
The eight Turkish servicemen were granted asylum by Greece’s Supreme Court on the grounds that they will not have a fair trial in Turkey and they are likely to be tortured as they are branded as “traitors” in Turkey. There is an ongoing issue between the two countries as Turkey repeatedly demands their extradition.
On March 1st, two Greek soldiers accidentally crossed the border to Turkey and they were captured by the authorities. They are in jail in Edirne without having charges pressed against them.
At the same time, the Turkish president made a gesture of friendship towards Greece, acknowledging the issue of the persecution of Greeks living in Turkey: “In our country, the number of our Greek fellow citizens was not a small one. There were tens, hundreds of thousands. And from the mistakes that happened in our country, many Greeks left for Greece. As Turkey, we have also made mistakes”.
The Turkish president also praised Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras calling for friendship between the two neighbors.
“In Greece, Tsipras as a prime minister is young and dynamic. And he has a desire for new steps. And the president is on the same page. I saw that on my recent visit. Lets put them on the table. Let ‘s put aside the fighting of the type you took more I gave more,” Erdogan said.