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Iran Press TV

Greek president reject Erdogan's proposal for soldier swap

Iran Press TV

Sun Apr 22, 2018 04:08PM

Greek president Prokopis Pavlopoulos has rejected a suggestion by his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the possibility of a swap of soldiers between the two countries.

Pavlopoulos said on Sunday that his country will never bow to Ankara's request to hand over eight Turkish soldiers wanted over a suspected role in a failed coup attempt in return for Turkey's extradition of two jailed Greek soldiers.

"The exchange of the two Greek soldiers that are jailed with the eight Turkish soldiers that are in Greece is out of the question," Pavlopoulos said in reference to the two Greek soldiers who have been charged with espionage in Turkey after crossing over the border on March 2.

Erdogan said Saturday that Turkey will only extradite the soldiers if Greece extradited the Turkish soldiers whom Ankara designates as members of FETO, a movement led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who is accused of masterminding the July 16, 2016 coup attempt.

"They (Greece) ask us to give back the Greek soldiers and we told them 'if you make such a demand, you should first give us FETO soldiers involved in a coup against our state'," Erdogan said, adding, "If they are handed to us, we will consider" the situation on Greek soldiers.

Turkey wants its eight servicemen who escaped the country following the coup to face prosecution at home. Greece's Supreme Court has ruled against the request and authorities in Athens insist Ankara has deliberately jailed the Greek soldiers to force the extradition of Turkish soldiers. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called on Turkey earlier this month to stop using the jailed soldiers as "pawns to blackmail".

Greek Defense Minister, Panos Kammenos said on Saturday that Erdogan's comments about the swap proved there was a hostage situation.

"When I spoke about a hostage situation of the Greek soldiers I was mocked. Sadly, I am confirmed by this proposal of exchange," said Kammenos.

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