Turkey, Europe

Putschists in Greece should be tried in Turkey: envoy

Turkish ambassador to Greece says fugitive ex-soldiers should be extradited to Turkey

Nilay Kar   | 15.02.2019
Putschists in Greece should be tried in Turkey: envoy

By Furkan Naci Top


Fugitive Turkish ex-soldiers who fled to Greece after a 2016 coup bid should stand trial in Turkey, the ambassador to Greece said on Friday.

Speaking exclusively to Anadolu Agency in Athens, Burak Ozugergin reviewed bilateral ties following Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ two-day visit to Turkey on Feb. 5, when he met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Referring to the fugitive ex-soldiers accused of having links to the foiled coup attempt, Ozugergin said: “The putschists should be tried by Turkish justice [system] after being extradited to Turkey.”

A few hours after the July 2016 defeated coup to overthrow the Turkish government, eight ex-military personnel had arrived in Greece on a hijacked Black Hawk helicopter and requested asylum.

Turkey had immediately issued an extradition request, which was eventually declined by the Greek Supreme Court in January 2017, after a series of trials and appeals.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Early this month, Turkey put a $12.8-million bounty on dozens of FETO fugitives.

Ex-majors, who escaped to Greece following the coup bid, Gencay Boyuk and Ahmet Guzel, former captains Abdullah Yetik, Feridun Coban, Suleyman Ozkaynakci and Ugur Ucan and ex-sergeants Bilal Kurugul and Mesut Firat were also placed in the red category of the Interior Ministry's list.

The Interior Ministry's wanted list is divided into five color-coded categories, with red as the most wanted, followed by blue, green, orange and gray.

Stating that there were many unresolved issues between the two neighboring countries, the Turkish ambassador said: “All of them are complex subjects.

“What is important is to keep channels of dialogue open. Continuation of the bilateral dialogue process is something that we’ve always wanted."

Cyprus Peace Operation 

Cyprus issue -- which could not be resolved for 50 years -- was among the topics that Tsipras and Erdogan discussed during their meeting, Ozugergin said.

“At first, an agreement should be reached on what the issue is,” he said.

“Cyprus issue arose in 1963, not in 1974. It even arose before. At that time, there were no Turkish soldiers on the island. Peace Operation [in 1974] was not a reason for the Cyprus issue but a result of the Cyprus issue,” the ambassador explained.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.

It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the collapse of a 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K.

With regards to exploratory drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, Ozugergin said that Turkey should be involved in natural resources exploitation activities.

“An Eastern Mediterranean energy equation -- where Turkey is not involved -- would not be a true equation and would not work," he said.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.

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