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Illegal detention of Greek soldiers exposes Turkey’s true colours

Left MEPs from Greece and Cyprus have spoken impassionately at the European Parliament in solidarity of the two Greek soldiers who have been illegally detained by the Turkish military since the beginning of March.

In particular, they condemned Turkey for holding the two-men patrol without charge, violating their basic human rights and the rule of law.

A resolution on their plight will be put to a vote in the Strasbourg plenary tomorrow afternoon.

Speaking first for GUE/NGL, Cypriot MEP and a member on the Parliament’s delegation to Turkey Takis Hadjigeorgiou (AKEL, Cyprus) blamed Ankara’s ulterior motives for escalating this incident into a diplomatic crisis:

“Serious concerns have been raised as to the motives behind Turkey’s actions and to what benefits it seeks to gain from them.”

“Regretfully of late, Turkey has been pursuing a policy of tension with violations in the Aegean Sea, harassment of Republic of Cyprus's EEZ as well as its general stance on wider regional issues.” 

“Such negative actions go against good neighbourly ties, thus further straining Turkey’s relationship with Greece and the European Union,” he said.

Vice-President of the European Parliament Dimitrios Papadimoulis (SYRIZA, Greece) said that Turkey must respect international law and that the EU must work harder to secure the soldiers’ release:

“The arrest and detention of the two Greek military officers is an example of Turkey’s provocative behaviour.”

“We call on the Turkish authorities to conclude the judicial process and to release the two soldiers by returning them to Greece. We also call on the Council, Commission, External Action Service and all EU member states to show solidarity with Greece and call for the two soldiers’ immediate release,” he said.

For Nikolaos Chountis (Popular Unity, Greece), the EU has not done nearly enough to secure the release of two of its citizens:

“This incident reveals Turkey's provocative strategy towards Greece, and negatively impacts upon good neighbourly relations.”

“Turkey, as a candidate country, has to respect the rules of international law. We call on the EU institutions to work towards the immediate release of the two Greek soldiers – who are also European citizens – without further delay, procedural pretexts and ineffective diplomatic declarations,” argued Chountis.

Meanwhile, Kostas Chrysogonos (Independent, Greece) believes that Turkey must be sanctioned for this latest transgression:

“Since the Erdoğan regime does not understand the language of diplomacy, the language of sanctions remains.”

“There can be no continuation of the massive pre-accession funding from the EU for a state that does not meet its obligations as a candidate country. Plus it is also clear that Turkey neither responds nor is willing to meet these obligations.''

Finally, Sofia Sakorafa (Independent, Greece) said that as the EU are experts at blackmailing their own citizens over the banking crisis, they should have no problem doing the same with Ankara:

“The Commission must tell us what concrete actions they intend to take in order to force and to blackmail Turkey in the same way that Turkey is constantly blackmailing the EU.” 

“For years now, the Commission has been unscrupulously extorting our nations and our people for more banking profits. Now that we are talking about real human lives – will they do the same and with such ferocity?”