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Erdogan in Turkish bazaar: Bilateral issues can be solved only through reciprocity

There were a few moments of awkwardness during the press conference by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

The host certainly surprised the guest when he openly demanded the extradition of the 8 Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece after the failed coup in summer 2016. “There can’t be that fugitives belonging to terrorist movements find shelter in Greece,” Erdogan underlined.

Erdogan said that one should respect those who lost their lives in the coup attempt.

“We also expect Greece to respect this and to treat the fugitive [officers] accordingly, instead of harboring them,” he underlined.

“Greece condemns any form of coup,” Tsipras replied adding that both the cases of the 8 Turkish soldiers as well as the of the 2 Greek soldiers who were held for six months in Turkey “are thorns in the bilateral relations.”

“Justice has ruled about the 8 Turkish soldiers, the state ought to respect the decisions. Of course, putschists are not welcome in Greece,” Tsipras added.

To chronic Greek request to open again the Theologicla School of Halki, Erdogan made it clear there cannot be such a move without reciprocity.

“Give us the Muftis in Thrace and the school in Halki will open,” the President said reiterating the Turkey’s demand to appoint the Muslim clerics in the areas of Muslim Minority and not have them appointed by the Greek state.

“We have expanded every effort to improve the situation of Turkish citizens of Greek descent and expect Greece to adopt the same approach,” he stressed.

In addition, he said that in terms of Greece, Turkey “will agree on all levels to have an open dialogue; in relation to religious minorities especially, we will make inroads, we will assess them and we will jointly find solutions,” he added.

The meeting between the two leaders lasted over two hours,and the summary of this is that both sides put their own agenda on the table. However, no further step was made in the direction of finding a solution to the many thorny issues between Greece and Turkey.

We “have agreed to reduce tension in the Aegean and promote mutual trust,” Tsipras said.

Has Tsipras’ visit to Ankara helped ease the tension in the Aegean? Hardly.

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