by Aggelos Skordas
With a strongly worded statement the office of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras replied late on Sunday to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attempted linkage between the cases of the two Greek officers held imprisoned in a top security in Edirne for one month and that of the eight Turkish military officers seeking asylum in Greece. Specifically, the Greek Premier’s office underlined that Greece is “governed by the rule of law and has a Prime Minister […] and not a sultan”, in a clear implication on Erdogan’s despotic rule.
“If the Turkish President had something to say regarding the case of the Turkish soldiers wanted in connection with Turkey’s failed 2016 coup, he had the opportunity to say it both to the Greek Prime Minister himself or even publicly during his recent visit to Athens. Today, he chooses to continue an incomprehensibly slippery road of provocative attacks, comparing two completely different cases.
We make clear to him that Greece is a state governed by the rule of law and has a Prime Minister who both respects and knows the processes of Greek justice, and not a sultan who is in a position to make any promises to influence its decisions. If he wishes to be the head of a well administrated state, he has to explain why Turkey still detains the two Greek soldiers who did nothing more than walk a few metres into Turkish territory as part of their efforts to investigate possible illegal crossings. Meanwhile, similar incidents in the past were handled on a basis of good will and cooperation between the two countries, which are members of the same military alliance”, the Greek stern statement reads.
Earlier on Sunday, dressed in military-style camouflage uniform addressing his supporters in Antakya, southern Turkey, Erdogan slammed Greece and the European Union for putting pressure on Ankara for the return of the two Greek army officers. “You know, certain people tried to kill me and escaped to Greece by helicopter. After that, Mr. Tsipras, when I spoke to him, told me that the matter would be dealt with in 10 to 15 days. Months have passed, years have passed, and he still has not dealt with it. A few days ago we caught two Greek soldiers who breached the border and there was an outcry from the whole of the West”, Erdogan underlined.
“They told us you are a large state, give them to us”, he continued referring to pleas by European Union officials last week at a summit in Varna, Bulgaria. “I am very sorry but we also have rule of law. That case is in with the judiciary. Whatever justice decides. You did nothing about those terrorists, you did not say anything about them to Mr. Tsipras”, he concluded.