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The two Greek soldiers still detained in Turkey. Europe wants a soft solution

Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos with the Chairman of the EU Military Committee, in discussion with General Mikhail Kostarakos during the last Council of Defense Ministers on Tuesday March 6 (credit: Council of the EU)

(B2) The two Greek soldiers, who 'skimmed' the border, are still detained in Turkey. Much to the dismay of Athens. Europeans show their solidarity. But take it easy, so as not to get involved in a new dispute with Ankara. NATO remains silent, embarrassed by a border incident between two Alliance members.

The fog in question

The two Greek officers had been arrested a week ago (Thursday, March 1), while patrolling the Greek-Turkish border. The Turkish authorities put them in the hole, with a charge not only of violation of the territory, but also of espionage. The Greek general staff categorically denies it. This is just an error; the climatic conditions (fog) disoriented the route of the two officers, he explains.

On the trail of traffickers

Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos gave a more detailed, more European version to his colleagues at the latest meeting of EU defense ministers on Tuesday (6 March). “ The two Greek soldiers were patrolling an area where trafficking and illegal entry of refugees and migrants is rife; they had a specific route that they believed would lead to traffickers and illegal migrants entering the country from that point. » What seems certain is that they are “ entered Turkish territory " But " for a few meters only and were arrested.

Detention in a safe place

The two soldiers were placed in a high security prison. The Andrianoupolis court rejected the request for release filed by their lawyers on Monday (March 5), the press reports. The Turkish prosecutor refused any compromise, in particular that the two soldiers be detained in the Greek consulate until their trial. They are expected to go to trial by the end of this week.

Greek habit of seizing Europe is not good, says Ankara

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday (March 7), Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim showed no signs of compromise, according to Kathiremini. The Turkish judicial system will do what he must he said. He also mocked the Greek demand for European solidarity “ It has become a habit [for Greece] to bring any problem it has with Turkey to the EU to ask for its support ". And to add: Our relations with the EU will neither progress nor deteriorate because of these actions ».

The point brought to the discussion of the Ministers of Defense

The question was in fact raised by the Greek minister during the meeting of EU defense ministers in Brussels on Tuesday (March 6). The opportunity for him to explain the situation. We " hope a quick and positive result on this issue in a spirit of good neighborliness, as should always be the case between two close neighbors » said the High Representative of the Union when a colleague questioned him on the subject following this discussion. The ministers have “ to express their solidarity », specified Federica Mogherini. It is important " to share information ».

The solidarity of ministers

Federica Mogherini insisted in particular on the importance " good neighborly relations "," especially between two NATO allies ". A notion " that we always pass on to our Turkish interlocutor ". On the side of the European Commission, the situation is being closely monitored, as its chief spokesperson recalled during the daily press briefing on Tuesday. Margaritis Schinas also hoping for a “ quick and positive outcome " to this question. Clearly, the release of the military.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde, with Claire Boutry)

B2 Writing

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