What caused the unexpected release of the two Greek servicemen

What caused the unexpected release of the two Greek servicemen

The release of the two Greek soldiers has surprised many, even their lawyers who stated that the release was decided without them having submitted a relevant request. The surprising and unexpected request of the Turkish prosecutor who reported that the mobile investigation was completed and no suspicious material was found in a ‘simplistic’ way “okayed” their release.

”The release was decided without a previous request of ours, but upon the request of the prosecutor, who came to the conclusion that there was no evidence of espionage”, said lawyer Selin Ozel.

Many in Ankara say that Turkey’s political leadership, that is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, may have contributed to the making of this decision, but at the moment there is no tangible evidence about this.     

Perhaps it is accidental, perhaps not how a Turkish court has decided to release Taner Kilic, the head of Amnesty International in Turkey.   

Kilic remained jailed for a year, accused of supporting Fethullah Gülen’s network, whom Ankara considers as the master mind behind the coup in July 2016.

Taner Kilic has not yet been released from prison, which is expected to happen in the next few hours.  

These two decisions are of interest as the U.S. is pushing Ankara for the release of pastor Andrew Brunson, resulting in a serious crisis between the two sides that has serious economic repercussions for the Turkish economy.

Although, on Wednesday afternoon, the Izmir court rejected the Brunson’s lawyers’ request for the removal of the house arrest restriction, at the same time his case was referred to a higher level (court) that will examine within a few days. Hurriyet’s English-language version suggested that there may be major developments in the coming days. Brunson is officially charged with relations with Gülen’s FETÖ, but also with the Kurdish PKK. He has been in prison since October 2016, but for the past two weeks he has been under house arrest at his home in Izmir. 

A phone contact between the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was announced on Wednesday afternoon, and was said that Merkel expressed her support for the Turkish economy.

The Turkish press reported the meeting of officials of Turkey’s Turkish foreign and finance ministry with their U.S. counterparts in Washington on August 8th. According to the Turkish newspapers, the Americans had given a list of 10 or 15 people and had requested their release. Officially, the meeting was fruitless.

The Turkish press information had not been confirmed or contradicted. But the surprising release of the two Greek soldiers and that of Kilic within a 24-hour time frame caused a stir.

However, the scenarios mentioned in Greece, concerning bargains on the retirement of the muftis of Xanthi and Komotini (cities in NE Greece), have no particular basis. Firstly, because there is no official reaction from Ankara as it awaits Athens’ next moves -if any is made- and secondly if there was some kind of “bargaining” it could regard a religious matter and not such a different issue. Besides, Erdogan had officially put the exchange of the 8 Turkish officers who are accused as (2016) coup plotters, with the two Greek soldiers, on the table, without ever mentioning another issue.

Looking back at the recent history, it may be important to mention two incidents with Turkish soldiers arrested by Greeks. In 2001, when Greek-Turkish relations had reached a good level, a Turkish soldier who had entered into Greek territory had been arrested in Evros and was released 6 hours later. At the end of the ’80s, during the 1987 Aegean crisis, after the incident with the Turkish survey ship RV MTA Sismik 1 and with the Greek-Turkish ties at their lowest point (due to the disputed Aegean waters near the northern Aegean island of Thasos and oil drillings Greece wanted to conduct there), the Turkish soldier had remained in Greek prisons for about 6 months nearly the same period of time that Greek officers Aggelos Mitretodis and Dimitris Kouklatzis spent in the Turkish prison in 2018, though these two cases need not be directly linked with each other…. / IBNA