Greece urges Turkey 'goodwill gesture' on detained soldiers

03 Apr 2018 / 21:39 H.

ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday urged Turkey to make a "goodwill gesture" in releasing two jailed Greek soldiers and to halt verbal attacks raising tension between the NATO allies.
"Let them stop (verbal) attacks and make a goodwill gesture as soon as possible," Tsipras told his cabinet in televised remarks.
"We call our neighbours to abandon this dead-end escalation of rhetoric," he added.
Tsipras said Turkish authorities were "unjustly" holding two Greek soldiers who crossed the Turkish border on March 2, claiming to have lost their way in the fog.
Turkish media have reported that the pair, held in the northern Turkish province of Edirne, have been charged with espionage.
But Athens contends that Turkish authorities have not given adequate detail of the charges and on what evidence they are based.
According to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency, the soldiers have been charged with "attempted military espionage" as well as entering a forbidden military zone.
Tsipras called on the Turkish judiciary to "speed up" its processing of the case.
"In the past, we returned Turkish soldiers who crossed a few metres into Greece whilst on patrol. I expect the Turkish president to do the same," he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and members of his government have escalated attacks on Greece after its failure to extradite eight Turkish soldiers that Ankara said were part of an attempted 2016 coup.
The Greek Supreme Court has conclusively blocked the extradition of the eight Turkish soldiers, arguing that they would not have a fair trial in their home country amid an ongoing purge of suspected Erdogan opponents.
Regional rivals Ankara and Athens are already at loggerheads over the exploration of gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.
In Dec, Erdogan made a landmark two-day visit to Greece, the first by a Turkish president in 65 years.
But before even setting foot in Athens, he angered his hosts with talk of revising borders and complaints about Greece's treatment of its Muslim minority. — AFP

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