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Tsipras: “Immediate release of 2 soldiers is major issue in Greek-Turkish relations”

“The immediate release of the two Greek soldiers is a major issue in the Greek-Turkish relations” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reportedly told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a private meeting at the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Brussels. In the meeting that last nearly two hours, Tsipras put the issue of the two Greek soldiers in Turkish custody on top of the agenda between the two leaders, while the Turkish escalation in the Aegean followed.

At a press conference following the meeting, Tsipras said it wasn’t an easy meeting because of those two issues.

The case of the two Greek soldiers was “a major issue of ethical, symbolic and substantive meaning in the relations between the two countries,” the prime minister said.

He added that Erdogan brought up in response the issue of the eight Turkish servicemen who had fled to Greece after a coup, and whose extradition the Turkish government has asked for.

Tsipras said he had told the Turkish president that the two cases are not connected to each other.

Greece does not welcome individuals who have participated in coups against democratic countries, but Greek justice is independent, Tsipras said he told Erdogan, adding that in terms of the two Greeks, held for entering Turkey during a patrol, “I was not asking (Erdogan) for a favor, I said that the necessary processes must go ahead.”

The issue of the two Greek soldiers was the reason the Greek political leadership rejected Erdogan’s invitation to participate in his oath ceremony beginning of the week.

According to Tsipras, the two leaders also decided to work towards reducing tension in the Aegean and welcomed the collaboration on migration, especially as based on the agreement between the EU and Turkey. The related ministers of the two countries will remain in closer contact, the Greek premier said, commenting that recent migration flows had shown no spikes or cause for concern.

with amna and other sources

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