‘Intense Pressure’ May Force Erdogan to Free Greek Soldiers

    Alternate Defense Minister Fotis Kouvelis (center) meets the family of one of the two Greek soldiers being held in Turkey (file photo).

    The two Greek soldiers being held in a maximum-security jail in Turkey could be freed after “intense pressure” has been brought to bear on the country’s ruler, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    This was the view of Greek Alternate Defense Minister Fotis Kouvelis who told public radio on Thursday that the case was directly linked to the Turkish president given how the country’s judicial system had been “manipulated”.

    Kouvelis also described Turkey’s judiciary as being “subservient to Mr Erdogan’s political and party interests”.

    “It does not operate freely, like Greek justice,” he added.

    On Wednesday, the Turkish government approved a request by a Greek member of the European Parliament to visit the two Greek soldiers being held in Edirne (Adrianopolis).

    The two men have been held for trespassing into Turkish territory early in March, and are awaiting trial.

    Last month, Erdogan spoke on Turkey’s NTV television drawing a link between this case and that of eight former Turkish soldiers seeking asylum in Greece who are wanted by Ankara.

    “They asked us to give the two Greek soldiers back. And we told them there are eight soldiers who tried to make a coup,” Erdogan said, adding: “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.”