In the light of the latest development, which is no other than the release of the two Greek soldiers who had been detained in Edirne’s prison for about six months, Egemen Bağış, Turkey’s former Minister of European Affairs, speaks to IBNA journalist Manolis Kostidis about Ankara’s unexpected move.
Dear Minister, what happened? This was an absolute surprise. We had been waiting for Brunson’s release but, instead, the two Greek soldiers were released. What happened;
“As you know, when the two soldiers were arrested I was in Greece. I was there to represent my country at the Delphi Economic Forum. I said it then and I will say it again now. Justice in Turkey is independent, but this should not be a risk for the two countries’ relations. Time did us justice. Everyone saw that justice was independent, and our enemies and friends also saw it. However, in this decision there is a message to the Greek people both by the judges who made the decision and by ordinary citizens of Turkey and our president. We do not want to clash with Greece. We want peace, tranquility. This decision should not be seen as anything other than a move of goodwill on the part of our country. “
Is there a political factor as part of this decision?
“Perhaps every decision has something of politics in it, but the truth is one. Some sell arms to Greece because they are afraid of Turkey while other are selling arms to Turkey because they are afraid of Greece. But our peoples do not need new weapons. The step is a kind gesture by the Turkish people towards the Greek. Unfortunately, the two servicemen violated the rules, they crossed the border. Deliberately or not they took some photos and there is some information about them. However, despite these facts, Mr Avramopoulos, who is the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, has spoken, many times, with our ministers and the president from close by. I was there the first day and I watched him following developments. And I think the creative attitude of the Turkish authorities in this matter has helped towards this positive development.”
For about five and a half months, the two Greek soldiers remained in imprisoned in Edirne, and during that period statements from the Turkish side were made for an exchange with the 8 military coup. This has not happened, hence the surprise. Was that a gesture of goodwill?
“This is proof of the independent justice and friendship of the Turkish people. We should not confuse them with other things.
The release of the two soldiers can not justify the comfortable stay of the eight traitors in Greece. It is obvious what you are going through and what we go through. It’s time for the two sides to work in a ‘win-win’ framework.”
Thank you, very much… / IBNA
Main Photo: Manolis Kostidis of IBNA (L) with Egemen Bağış former minister for EU Affairs (R) in Istanbul