The arrest of the Greek troops was made by the Turkish gendarmerie in Evros and intensifies the latest disturbed relations between Greece and Turkey. Lieutenant Angelos Mitretodis and Sergeant Dimitris Kouklatzis remain detained by Turkish authorities, their case is different from similar incidents of the past that no military man was taken to court and it is unknown when they will be let free.
The Greek troops got arrested on Thursday afternoon in Kastanies area, near Evros while they were on military patrol and unwittingly entered Turkish soil. Turkey has them detained as it accuses them for spying and illegal entry into a military zone. Milliyet newspaper read they are held for illegally entering the country and because Turkish authorities would not want to lose their phone details, since they have no permanent residence in Turkey and in case they were let free, they could flee the country.
They were arrested at gun point, their weapons and phones were seized after they were taken to the District Attorney for questioning and it was the latter who charged them with the pre-mentioned crimes, ordering their detention.
The Greek governmental spokesman, Dimitris Tzanakopoulos replying to whether negotiations over freeing them are underway, spoke of “conspiratorial, spyware scenarios that are not worthy of comment”, saying the issue is purely formal.
Almost all Turkish Media that presented the story reminded their audience that Greece did not extradite the 8 Turkish military men, citing the independence of the Greek justice.
Tzanakopoulos added that the incident took place due to bad weather conditions that prevented the two Greek troops from realising where they were. Reiterating the formality of the procedure now taking place in Turkey, he said that it is all about a trial for illegal entry in the country which will be wrap up and soon, the soldiers will return to Greece. “Since Turkish authorities arrested them, everything has to be done by the book”, he noted.
There is the possibility, however, that Turkey might also cite the independent Turkish justice as a “retaliation” against the Greek decision not to extradite the 8 Turks who are in Greece since 2016 but Turkey accuses them for participation in the (2016) attempted coup.
At the court, the two Greeks admitted that they were lost, saw tracks in the snow that they followed and did make pictures in order to show them to their superiors.
Apparently, during deposition they said “we are not agents”.
At the moment, they are held at the Edirne prison, until there is a trial date. It is believed that their lawyers will appeal next Monday without being sure if their case will be examined that same day.
The Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, Evangelos Apostolakis spoke on the phone with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar about the incident.
Things got a rather unexpected turn on Friday due to the Edirne DA’s decision to try the two soldiers with the charge of attempted espionage and illegal entry into a military area.
Turkish daily Hürriyet reported of what Greek Media said, that it is possible that Turkey might try to exchange them with the 8 Turkish soldiers in Greece.
Those following Greek-Turkish issues closely are not optimistic, believing the return of the two soldiers to Greece might take a while…/IBNA