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Political outrage as ANEL MP proposes Greek soldiers’ exchange with Turkish servicemen

Independent Greeks (ANEL) MP, Kostas Katsikis, proposed the exchange of the two Greek soldiers still in Turkish custody with the eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece after the failed coup in summer 2016. Apparently in line with Tsipras’ junior coalition partner Panos Kammenos who has been describing the Greek soldiers as “hostages”, Katsikis said both the Greek and the Turkish political leaderships could bypass justice authorities.

Speaking to Skai TV on Wednesday morning the MP said “if  the governments in both countries bypass Justice authorities and we proceed with the exchange, I don’t know what the cost would be. I think this could be a solution.”

Asked if he had discussed this solution with ANEL leader and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, Katsikis replied “I have not discussed this with Kammenos. But when the calls them hostages what does this mean? That I want an exchange.”

Katsikis statement triggered an outrage not only among opposition parties who accused him of playing Erdogan’s game. Katsikis statement came just hours after the Turkish President had made a link between the two cases.

A ‘civil war’ broke within his own party with ANEL members urging him to apologize.

“Katsikis should immediately apologize to the Greek soldiers’ families, the soldiers in illegal custody are not object of exchange, it is his personal point of view,” ANEL MP Dimitris Kammenos said.

Fire shorts came also from ruling SYRIZA.

“There is no need for a few, completely incompetent people to jump in where they are not supposed to,” SYRIZA MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis commented adding “Erdogan would suggest an exchange line. It is inconceivable that such views are expressed by Greeks.”

Under the pressure of the strong reactions from within and outside the government, Katsikis tried to correct his morning statement saying he was speaking theoretically. “It was my personal opinion, it does not express neither the party, nor the leader,” he said among others and added “Let’s not fool ourselves, the Turks will not give solution to the issue, we have to look at what we can do.”

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