Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly told European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk that the case of the two jailed Greek army officers is exclusively in the hands of the Turkish judiciary.
He indirectly linked the case to that of eight Turkish army officers whose extradition from Greece Ankara has repeatedly demanded, but which has been definitively blocked by the Greek Supreme Court on the grounds that they are not guaranteed a fair trial in Turkey, according to a report by the Cyprus News Agency, which cited Erdogan’s briefing for Turkish journalists after the EU-Turkey summit in Varna.
“You are a great country. You are a great president. Ensure that these two army officers will be set free, they told me. I responded that I am not greater than the judiciary, and that this incident is being handled by the judiciary. We must await the decision of judicial authorities,” Erdogan is quoted as saying.
“In Varna, they discussed Turkey’s relations with Greece and Cyprus, and we had an opportunity to discuss these issues in detail. We discussed the situation with the two Greek army officers, who were arrested because they crossed the border and entered our military zone. We explained that the case is in the hands of the judiciary, and that they are receiving visits from their families and Greek consular authorities,” the Turkish president told a press gaggle.
“Of course, I explained that it is not just, for those who discuss in depth the case of the two army officers, not to discuss at all the issue of extraditing the Turkish military officers who escaped to Greece after involvement in the [abortive] coup in Turkey. We certainly did not link the two issues, but those who participated in staging the coup in our country are still in Greece. We asked for them and they did not hand them over. Those who do not breathe a word about this issue say that the two Greek officers should be released immediately.”