-Dr. Abdul Ruff
Turkey and Greece with common borders continue to face mutual tensions and Greece is a major reason for Turkey’s efforts to enter the EU as a European power.
Also, those EU members who oppose Turkey to be a EU member mainly because Turkey is the only Muslim nation in entire European continent. For most of EU members find it embarrassing to have a Muslim nation in their estimably Christian continent and create problems to deny Turkey its legitimate claim to be in the EU, though economically and politically Turkey, a stable and prospective nation both ways, would not gain anything being in this weak association.
The Turkish military helicopter that landed in the Greek border city of Alexandroupolis just as an attempted coup was being quashed in Turkey has turned into one of the toughest diplomatic challenges to date for Greece’s relatively inexperienced government. On board were eight Turkish military personnel — all unarmed helicopter crew members, it later turned out — who issued a mayday signal and were granted permission for an emergency landing. The eight immediately surrendered to Greek police. They insist they were not involved in the attempted coup, had been tasked with transporting wounded soldiers and civilians and had fled for their lives after coming under fire from Turkish police.
Turkey disputes their claim, and has demanded their return to stand trial for alleged participation in the violent attempt to overthrow the government. But the eight have applied for political asylum in Greece, saying they would be in danger if returned to Turkey amid President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s widespread purges of the military and civil service in response to the failed coup.
Turkey has been demanding from its neighbor Greece to hand over the former military personnel involved the failed coup in Turkey to kill President Erdogan and destabilize Islamist Turkey but Greece by using the issue as an important asset to belittle Istanbul has refused to oblige the Turkish government, citing some technical problems.
Greece’s Supreme Court has ruled against the extradition of eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece in July after a failed coup attempt in Turkey, a decision which angered Ankara and further strained relations between the two neighbours.
Turkey has demanded Greece extradite them to try them for their possible involvement in the coup attempt and has branded them traitors.
The coup men who fled Turkey after their coup failed– three majors, three captains and two sergeant-majors – landed a helicopter in northern Greece on 16 July and in oreer to get the support of Greece and EU sought political asylum saying they feared for their lives in Turkey.
Without giving reason to use the military helicopter and fled Turkey after the failed coup, the soldiers deny playing a role in the attempt to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which led to a purge of the military and civil service. “The possibility of their rights being violated or reduced regardless of the degree of guilt or the gravity of the crimes they are accused of does not allow the implementation of extradition rules,” a Supreme Court president said.
The soldiers have been kept in protective custody pending final decisions on their asylum applications in Greece. Their lawyer Christos Mylonopoulos said the verdict was “a big victory for European values”, but he has not explained how those who tried to engineer ac coup to destabilize Turkey and kill the Islamist leaders as it has happened in Egypt is victory for Greece..
The court decision brought an angry response from the Turkish foreign ministry, which accused Greece of protecting plotters and said relations between the two countries would be reviewed. Turkey would “use all avenues of law” to ensure the soldiers’ extradition and prosecution, it added. “Once again Greece, an ally and a neighbour, has failed to fulfil the basics of the fight against terrorism,” it said. “The impact of this decision thought to be made with political motives on our mutual ties, our cooperation in the fight against terrorism and our work on other mutual and regional issues will be subject to a comprehensive review.”
The state-run Anadolu news agency reported earlier that Turkish authorities had issued arrest warrants for the soldiers. The soldiers have been accused in Turkey of attempting to abrogate the constitution and dissolve parliament, seizing a helicopter, using violence and attempting to assassinate President Erdogan who is already facing problem form his former allies like Gulen who is being shielded by USA for his involvement in the coup and other anti-Turkey activities. President Trump is likely send Gulen back to Turkey for facing legal procedures to clear himself of all charges of treason.
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.
Today, 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. Turkey has been on the forefront to help EU solve the explosive migration crisis by accepting thousands of refugees.
The relations between the Greek and the Turkish states have been marked by alternating periods of mutual hostility and reconciliation ever since Greece won its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1832. Since then the two countries have faced each other in four major wars—the Greco-Turkish War (1897), the First Balkan War of 1912 to 1913, the First World War (1914 to 1918) and finally the Greco-Turkish War (1919–22). The latter was followed by the Greco-Turkish population exchange and a period of friendly relations in the 1930s and 1940s.
Both countries entered NATO in 1952 and normalized their ties without tensions. Relations deteriorated again in the 1950s due to the Cyprus issue, Greek destabilization moves, the 1955 Istanbul pogrom and the expulsion of the Istanbul Greeks in the 1960s, leading to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, and subsequent military confrontations over the Aegean dispute. A period of relative normalization began after 1999 with the so-called “earthquake diplomacy”, which notably led to a change in the previously firmly negative stance of the Greek government on the issue of the accession of Turkey to the European Union.
Both countries entered NATO in 1952 and normalized their ties without tensions. Relations deteriorated again in the 1950s due to the Cyprus issue, the 1955 Istanbul pogrom and the expulsion of the Istanbul Greeks in the 1960s, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, and subsequent military confrontations over the Aegean dispute. A period of relative normalization began after 1999 with the so-called “earthquake diplomacy”, which notably led to a change in the previously firmly negative stance of the Greek government on the issue of the accession of Turkey to the European Union.
After the failed 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt several Turkish military personnel sought political asylum in Greece while Turkey requested their extradition. Also, the Greek armed forces and Coast Guard was on alert and increased the patrols and a contingent of the Greek It seems, police was dispatched to some Greek islands to conduct checks there in order to prevent the arrival of participants in the failed coup to Greece and arrest anyone who might manage to enter the country. No details of detentions are available.
There has been a flow of anti-government Turks seeing asylum in neighboring countries like Greece and Italy. The coup in Turkey was a deep rooted one but failed because President Erdogan could detect the trouble well in advance or before it was too late to do anything, so that coup could not succeed and some plotters fled the nation. Also, the two Turkey’s military attache in Athens fled to Italy. The Greek Foreign Ministry canceled the two attache’ accreditations on August 7, 2016, upon the request of the Turkish Foreign Ministry. At August 11, 2016, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that they left Greece to Italy on August 6 and added that Turkey will officially ask Italian authorities to extradite the two soldiers.
On August 25, 2016, seven Turkish citizens who supported the coup were seeking asylum in Greece. A couple, both of whom are university professors, and their two children applied for asylum in Alexandroupoli after they illegally entered the country from the northeastern border. Also, three businessmen have illegally reached the Greek island of Rhodes, and they also applied for asylum.
On August 30, 2016, interestingly, a Turkish judge arrived in the Greek island of Chios on a migrant boat and sought asylum in the country. He told the Greek coast guard and police officers that he is against Islamist government and is being persecuted in Turkey for his political beliefs by the government of President Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish judge had been arrested for illegally entering the country and, also, he transferred to Athens for his asylum proceedings.
On September 21, 2016, ten Turkish civilians, two men, two women and six children landed by boat illegally on the Greek island of Rhodes and sought asylum. They told to the Greek authorities they were working in the private sector in Turkey and they were being persecuted by the Turkish government for opposing it and due to their political beliefs. On September 29, 2016, five Turkish nationals, a couple and their child and two other men, arrived in Alexandroupolis by crossing the Evros River by boat illegally and requested political asylum
The arrival of coup plotters on board a Black Hawk helicopter on July 16 – and their asylum applications in particular – have created a diplomatic headache for Greece, which has a long history of delicate relations with its much larger and more powerful eastern neighbor. The two countries last came to the brink of war 20 years ago over a territorial dispute in the Aegean Sea that separates them, and while they have since enjoyed far warmer ties, tensions are never far away. Greece often complains of Turkish fighter jet violations of its airspace in the Aegean.
Greek officials quickly returned the helicopter, and have suggested they would like to return the eight as well as per international law but has not kept their word. . .Many in Greece supporting the coup say the frequent comments by Turkish officials, including Erdogan himself, about reinstating the death penalty are complicating matters. If death penalty legislation is introduced in Turkey’s parliament, Greece or any other European Union member would struggle to extradite someone to a country where they might be executed.
Turkey’s ambassador to Athens, Kerim Uras, has warned that the Turkish public is closely watching the case, and a failure to return the military personnel could have repercussions on bilateral relations. “If they are returned as soon as possible, this can really turn into a great, positive thing for bilateral relations,” Uras said. if Greece indicates that the military personnel would be returned, Turkey might refrain from turning up the pressure on Athens.
Greece apparently now serves as the safe haven for the coup plotters and anti-national operators in Turkey and Greece supports the anti-Turkish protester sand agitators and plotters as a policy. And hence the Supreme Court also supports the coup plotters and refuses to extradite them.
Extradition of outsiders from neighboring countries is a law that is followed by most countries even without request from the countries where they belong. But Greece and USA still refuse to extradite those from Turkey with anti-government charges.
This attitude strengthens the anti-Islamic movements particularly in Islamic world.