Greek PM says court decision to not extradite Turkish soldiers must be respected

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras welcomes his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim at the Maximos Mansion in Athens, Greece, June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

A court ruling to not extradite eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece following a failed coup attempt last year must be respected, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Monday.

“The Greek justice system has ruled on this issue … and this decision must be fully respected,” Tsipras said in response to a question during a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim in Athens.

“We would like Greece to extradite those who clearly staged a coup against our nation,” Yildirim said at the same joint press conference. “We respect the judiciary’s decision, but we do not want these putschists to strike a blow to Turkish-Greek relations.”

Turkey alleges the men were involved in efforts to overthrow President Tayyip Erdogan last July and has repeatedly demanded they be sent back.

Greek courts blocked two second extradition requests by Ankara, drawing Turkey’s angry rebuke and highlighting often strained relations between the NATO allies which remain at odds over issues from territorial disputes to ethnically-split Cyprus.