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A Turkish helicopter lands in Greece. Its occupants seek asylum

(BRUSSELS2) Quite spectacularly, a military helicopter “blackhawkTurkish landed in Alexandroupoli, the city closest to the Turkish border (European side), this Saturday (July 16).

The helicopter escorted to landing

According to greek media, the helicopter, issued a “mayday” alert requesting an emergency landing and requested permission to land. Two Greek F-16 fighters immediately took off to escort him until he arrived at the airport. Defense Minister Panos Kammenos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras were informed and agreed to the reception.

The 8 occupants "arrested"

The plane was carrying supporters of the military coup. The eight passengers and crew (2 majors, a captain and five soldiers) were intercepted upon their arrival, and “ accompanied » to the police station where they officially requested political asylum. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu requested their extradition to Turkey.

A tricky case

If returning the device to the Turks should not pose a problem. This is the usual rule (at least between allies within NATO), for personnel, it is more complicated. Not granting asylum would be contrary to European values ​​and the rules governing the right to asylum. But the matter is very delicate. By calling into question a legitimately elected power, these soldiers have called democracy into question. More politically, this arrival also risks calling into question the good Greek-Turkish understanding and the EU-Turkey agreement on the control of Syrian refugees passing from Turkey to Europe.

Respect for democratic rules or right to asylum

Very quickly, the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias spoke with his Turkish counterpart, recalling that Greece “ condemned "the coup d'état and supports the struggle of the Turkish people for democracy and the defense of constitutional order in Turkey." “ Attempting to overthrow the democratically elected Turkish government is a punishable act ". The minister, however, refused to grant (immediately) the Turkish request. This " question will be examined on the basis of the provisions of Greek law and international law, and the procedures provided for by international law must be respected. “he explained according to the communicated published by the ministry. But Kotzias said take “ very seriously that those arrested are accused of having, in their country, violated constitutional legality and attempted to overthrow democracy ».

Mr. Kotzias reiterated to his Turkish counterpart the Greek government's view that the attempted overthrow of the democratically elected Turkish government constitutes a punishable act. With regard to the request for asylum, Mr. Kotzias stressed that, while the issue will be examined based on the provisions of Greek and international law, and the procedures provided for under international law will be complied with, it will be borne very seriously in mind that the arrested parties stand accused in their country of violating constitutional legality and attempting to overthrow democracy.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).