Greek PM says Turkey 'risks moving away from Europe'

Greek Prime Minister Tsipras ruled out any trade-off with Turkey for the release of two Greek soldiers held by Ankara
Monday, 23 April 2018 22:55

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday ruled out any trade-off with Turkey in efforts to secure the release of two detained Greek soldiers and said Ankara appeared to be moving further away from Europe.

"Turkey looks like a country ... at risk of losing its orientation and moving away from its European targets," Tsipras said.

The soldiers were arrested in March after crossing a densely forested part of the border in bad weather and face charges of illegal entry in Turkey. Ankara has also been angered by Athens' refusal to extradite eight Turkish commandos seeking asylum in Greece.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday said his government would consider the case of two Greek soldiers jailed in Turkey if Athens extradited the soldiers suspected of the 2016 failed coup.

"They [Greece] ask us to give back the Greek soldiers and we have told them 'if you make such a demand, you should first give us the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization [FETÖ] soldiers involved in a coup against our state,' " Erdoğan said.

Tsipras said there could be no quid pro quo in the efforts to secure the release of the Greek soldiers.

"We reject, in the most categorical manner, unacceptable preconditions," he said.

Earlier in the day, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos rejected Erdoğan’s offer.

In October 2017, Tsipras said at a joint news conference at the White House with U.S. President Donald Trump that it was important for Turkey to "remain part of the NATO and continue its orientation toward Europe."