Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday that Turkey has suspended a bilateral readmission agreement between Turkey and Greece due to a decision by a Greek court to free eight former Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece seeking asylum on the night of a coup attempt in July 2016.
Çavuşoğlu met with local journalists from Antalya, Isparta and Burdur provinces and answered their foreign policy questions, the Sözcü daily reported.
When a journalist asked about Greece’s decision to free the Turkish soldiers from detention, Çavuşoğlu said it was unacceptable.
“The Greek government wants to solve this issue. However, in the meantime we can see that Greece is being pressured by the West, especially Greek judges,” he stated.
“[The government] says Greek judges are independent. But we know the West is exerting pressure on them,” he added.
According to the bilateral agreement with Greece, Athens is allowed to return migrants to Turkey if caught after crossing the Turkish-Greek border, separate from a readmission agreement signed with the European Union signed in 2016, which Çavuşoğlu said is still in place.
Omiros Zelios, a lawyer representing the eight former Turkish soldiers, said on Monday that all his clients were released from police custody last week, the AP reported.
“Greece has clearly become a refuge for coup plotters. It boasts being the cradle of democracy but its stance is incompatible with international law and good neighborly relations,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry stated on Monday in response to the decision.