Greek Higher Court Forbids Extradition of Turkish Officers
Proto Thema reports that none of the eight Turkish officers who took part in the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be extradited. Members of the Turkish armed forces attempted a coup d’état against the Turkish president and key institutions of the Turkish state on July 15, 2016. The coup, however, failed, and many protesters fled the country seeking asylum. As the Greek newspaper states, the Turkish officers entered Greece on a S-70 military helicopter, angering the Turkish authorities, who demanded their immediate return so that the officers could be tried for their alleged involvement in the coup. The Greek court deemed that the officers would not be treated in a humane fashion and would not receive a fair trial if they were to returned to Turkey. This opinion echoed the view of many Greeks, who asked the Greek justice not to extradite the Turkish officers following reports of torture, rape, and inhumane treatment of Turkish soldiers that participated in the coup.
This decision of the Greek Supreme Court angered President Erdogan, who in response targeted Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and threatened to cancel the migration deal. Erdogan added that the court’s decision would deteriorate Greco-Turkish bilateral relations, as trust between the co
untries was undermined since Greece was allegedly protecting terrorists. Turkish Prime Minister Mehmet Cavusoglou stated, “This is a political decision; Greece is protecting and hosting coup plotters.”
Greek Minister of Defense Panos Kammenos fired back, stating that “Turkey must understand that the justice system in democratic countries is independent.” Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group Guy Verhofstadt praised the Greek judicial system, saying, “Very good news that the Supreme Court of Greece has rejected the extradition of the eight Turkish soldiers allegedly involved in last year's coup. European values and our common legal framework have been upheld. This is very important at a time when the values for which we have fought so hard are under grave threat.”
Following these events, it remains to be seen how Greco-Turkish relations will develop, given that the two countries are currently involved in negotiations regarding the reunification of Cyprus. In addition, the arrest warrant issued by Turkish authorities and the questioning of established pre-existing accords could strain the two countries’ relations.