The case of the eight Turkish servicemen. Asylum or deportation?

The case of the eight Turkish servicemen. Asylum or deportation?

Athens, July 24, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

When the 8 Turkish officers decided to fly to Greece is a Turkish army helicopter and seek asylum, they did not know, or perhaps didn’t imagine the ordeal they would be putting the relations of the two countries through.

Perhaps a role was played in their decision to fly to Greece by the view that the two countries’ relations are hostile, thus it would be easier for them to be granted asylum. The distance between Istanbul and Alexandroupolis or Istanbul and Burgas is about the same. But in Bulgaria there is a strong Turkish minority that may have complicated their plans. Common says, without any trace of conspiracy theories, says the choice of – the perhaps friendlier to them – Greece seemed imperative.

The Mayday signal anyway would leave little room to the authorities of any modern state to ignore it and of course there was little margin for further scrutiny if it was a real or fictitious signal, so that it could act according to its own interest. This will thereby get out anyway after landing. Any authorities would necessarily have to accept the landing on the basis of international safety rules.

It was logical that Turkey would request the immediate extradition of the 8 servicemen who handed over military material to a foreign country (the helicopter) and they surrendered themselves to a foreign country. Direct delivery might have deterred attempt by other participants in the attempted coup that are in hiding and are being sought, to flee to neighboring countries. This is a possibility if the 8 receive a positive decision in their asylum application.

However, the Greek response to follow all the procedures prescribed by the International and Greek Law and of course verbally reject the first official request for the return of the officials, was also rational and legal.

But what could happen after the near acquittal by the court of Alexandroupolis which ordered a 2 month imprisonment sentence with 3-year year suspension for the accused for illegal entry to the country?

The transfer of the eight asylum seekers to Athens, created many side effects, since information was confusing as to where they were transferred while there also rumors of their delivery to a third country which of course were not true as it would cause even more political and diplomatic problems. The big mistake and rush by some to transfer them, which occurred without their lawyers knowing, fueled several theories, even that they were handed to Turkey. Of course the 8 are free and they are detained administratively for security reasons until their asylum request is heard; therefore they might no longer need legal assistance.

Several theories, even that arises is about the role justice will play in case the asylum request is rejected by the committee. As IBNA understands, official documents show that the opinion on the possibility asylum is granted to the 8 Turkish servicemen is great, on the basis of case law governing asylum and the specific situation in Turkey at this time.

The government fears that the feud with parts of the judiciary could create major problems in bilateral relations between Greece and Turkey; something they don’t even want to think about in a period of volatility in the region. Will magistrates use the 8 servicemen in their conflict with the government? This will be proved by the way they handle the case.

Turkey has declared the country in a three-month state of emergency, but the same applies to France and Germany. Turkey has not proceeded to the reinstatement of the death penalty. The specific servicemen seeking asylum fled to a third country, not assuming the responsibility attributable to a failed coup in which it seems they took part in some way.

The insistence of the Greek Foreign Minister that all procedures foreseen by International and Greek Law will be observed but for people who tried to overthrow a democratically elected government, is not accidental.

The case of the 8 servicemen is now beginning and interest in it will surely be great, not only by the media but of the world and the governments of Greece and Turkey that are trying to find common footing for the stability of the SE Europe region.