Cyprus Mail

Turkey threatens to cancel Greece migration deal in soldiers’ extradition row

Eight Turkish soldiers, who fled to Greece in a helicopter and requested political asylum after a failed military coup against the government, are escorted by police officers as they arrive at the Supreme Court in Athens, Greece, January 26, 2017

Turkey has demanded the retrial of eight soldiers who fled to Greece after a failed coup last year and said it may take measures, including scrapping a migration deal with Athens, after a Greek court rejected an extradition request.

Greece‘s Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against extraditing the soldiers, who have sought political asylum, saying they feared for their lives in Turkey. Ankara says they were involved in the July 15 coup attempt and branded them traitors.

“We demanded that the eight soldiers be tried again. This is a political decision, Greece is protecting and hosting coup plotters,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state broadcaster TRT Haber on Friday.

“We are evaluating what we can do. There is a migration deal we signed, including a readmission deal with Greece, and we are evaluating what we can do, including the cancellation of the readmission deal with Greece,” Cavusoglu added.

Subsequently, a European Union spokeswoman said it was confident its cooperation with Turkey on migration will continue to hold firm.

Relations between Greece and Turkey, neighbours and NATO allies, have improved over the years but they remain at odds over territorial disputes and ethnically split Cyprus. In 1996, they almost reached the brink of war over an uninhabited islet.

The two countries play an important role in the handling of Europe’s worst migration crisis in decades and the EU depends on Ankara to enforce a deal to stem mass migration to Europe.

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