Turkey: Greece should not become ‘haven’ for coup-plotters
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Neighboring Greece should not become a “haven” for people suspected of links to last year’s failed coup in Turkey, the Turkish foreign minister said Tuesday after meeting with his visiting Greek counterpart.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Greece’s Nikos Kotzias, Mevlut Cavusoglu also said Turkey was keeping its side of an agreement made with the European Union on curbing the flow of migrants to Europe.
The ministers met in Ankara after a recent increase in the number of migrants illegally entering Greece from Turkey. Kotzias’ visit also comes amid tensions over the decision by Greek courts not to extradite eight Turkish officers accused by Turkey of involvement in the coup attempt and of links to the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen blamed for orchestrating the attempt.
Cavusoglu said Turkey was deeply disappointed by the decision against the officers’ extradition. He said at least 995 other Turkish citizens were seeking asylum in Greece and urged that they be vetted carefully to ensure that none is linked to the attempted coup.
“We want to believe that Greece, a neighboring country with which we are developing closer ties by the day, does not become a haven for (Gulen supporters),” Cavusoglu said.
Kotzias said his government opposes coups but the courts’ decisions must be respected.
Greece and Turkey are NATO allies but have long-standing disputes, including Aegean Sea boundaries, undersea exploration rights and the war-divided island of Cyprus.
Kotzias said improved ties between Turkey and Greece are to the benefit of both nations and reiterated support for Turkish membership in the EU.
Despite the failure of recent talks to reunify Cyprus, the two countries were “evaluating what steps to take next,” Cavusolgu said.
“In essence, a solution to Cyprus would benefit everyone,” Cavusoglu said.
The U.N. has reported an increase in migrant arrivals from Turkey in September. It was the highest monthly record since March 2016, when the EU and Turkey reached a deal to restrict the flow of migrants into Europe.
Cavusoglu reiterated Turkey’s commitment to the deal and said the EU had failed to deliver a large chunk of the money pledged to help Syrian refugees in Turkey.