Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that Ankara has demanded of Athens the return eight soldiers who fled to Greece after a coup bid in Turkey.
"We demanded the urgent return of eight traitor soldiers who escaped to Greece on a helicopter,” Cavusoglu was quoted as telling HaberTurk television. The minister said that Greek authorities were ready to cooperate.
Helikopterle Yunanistan'a kaan 8 hain askerin derhal teslim edilmesini istedik
— Mevlt avuolu (@MevlutCavusoglu) July 16, 2016
Greece arrested eight soldiers who landed by helicopter after sending a distress signal to authorities at the airport in Alexandroupolis in the country's north. They are due to appear before a Greek prosecutor on Sunday, one official said.
Greece said it will examine the request for political asylum made by the eight Turkish soldiers.
Spoke by phone w/FM @NikosKotzias of Greece. He said that 8 traitors who fled to Greece will be returned to Turkey as soon as possible
— Mevlt avuolu (@MevlutCavusoglu) 16 Temmuz 2016
Seven of those on board were in military uniform and all are believed to have been involved in the attempted putsch, ERT TV said.
Athens News Agency said the asylum seekers comprised of three majors, three captains and two sergeant majors.
According to an official in the Greek National Defence General Staff, "the helicopter is scheduled to be sent back immediately to Turkey".
"As far as the asylum seekers are concerned, we are going to proceed according to the international law," Olga Gerovassili, the Greek government spokeswoman, said.
She said Athens was "in constant contact with the Turkish authorities" and would take into account the fact that "the asylum seekers took part in a coup against the Turkish constitution".
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras early on Saturday expressed his "support for the democratically elected" Turkish government.