Athens refuses to extradite Turkish putschists
The Turkish government has reacted angrily to last week's decision by the Greek Supreme Court not to extradite eight Turkish officers suspected of plotting a coup to Ankara. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu accused the Greeks of protecting putschists. How negative will the impact of the ruling on Turkish-Greek relations be?
Tensions running high in the Aegean
The chief of the Turkish General Staff, Hulusi Akar, visited the uninhabited Imia islets - known as Kardak in Turkish - in the Aegean Sea on Sunday. Both Athens and Ankara lay claim to the islets. This provocation is directly linked to the ruling by the Greek Supreme Court, Milliyet suspects:
“After Ankara made its position in this conflict absolutely clear, Athens gave it another chance to settle things in court. But instead Ankara immediately resorted to pressure tactics. The visit to the Kardak islets by Chief of Staff Akar and several generals on Sunday was purely a show of force. High-ranking officials then threatened to terminate the bilateral readmission agreement. It is beyond question that both the intimidation attempts and the retaliation measures will harm both sides - as well as the entire region.”
New tensions inevitable
The decision is absolutely correct even though it could be costly for Greece in political terms, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung believes:
“The Athens judges had to decide against the extradition because the eight officers would face arbitrary justice if they were sent back to Turkey. If additional proof is needed to back that up, it is provided by the Turkish smear campaign against the court: Ankara has openly told the Greeks that the already tense relations between the two countries could become even worse. Erdoğan's questioning of historical borders, the increase in the number of military manoeuvres in the Aegean and the threat that new floods of refugees could be sent to Europe prove that this isn't just hot air. ... Greece's 'realpolitiker' would no doubt really have liked to avoid another crisis, because Turkey will no doubt react angrily to the judgement.”
Athens must now protect the soldiers
The online portal Protagon fears for the safety of the soldiers:
“The Turkish intelligence agencies will have already initiated operations to kidnap the eight officers or have them 'disappear'. ... Their case does not end here, for now a new chapter begins. If the decision on their extradition was important for our democracy and legal culture, their protection is also bound up with our national dignity. Those who believed the government was pushing for the Turks to be extradited may now fear that - since we didn't extradite them directly - we will do it surreptitiously. ... How could that be done? Well, first of all through efficient collaboration on the part of the intelligence agencies. That is, the Greek National Intelligence Service would deliver the officers 'free to the door'. Secondly, by turning a blind eye for as long as Turkey's National Intelligence Organisation needs to get hold of them and take them out of the country.”
Whose side is Europe on?
The Greek Supreme Court's ruling makes blogger Pitsiriko even more upset about the EU's refugee deal with Turkey:
“The fact that a country that violates human rights can at the same time be deemed safe is something that I personally find inexplicable. The European Union has created a common currency but forgotten to create political integration at the same time. It has forgotten to create a common European identity, a common European army, common European borders, a common European legal system and hence a common European right to asylum. ... I hope that the Supreme Court's decision came about as a result of an agreement between Greece and other European countries. ... And I hope that Turkey's reaction was above all aimed securing domestic support.”