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Turkey threatens to cancel the Greek-EU migration deal

Turkey threatens to cancel the Greek-EU migration deal
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By Catherine Hardy with REUTERS
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A row over the extradition of eight soldiers it says were involved with last year's coup means Ankara is threatening to cancel the Greek migration deal

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Turkey has demanded the retrial of eight soldiers who fled to Greece after a failed coup last year.

The foreign ministry in Ankara says Athens is protecting coup plotters and failing in the fight against terrorism.

Why is this happening?

On Thursday, Greece’s Supreme Court ruled against extraditing the soldiers.

They have sought political asylum, saying they fear for their lives if they return to Turkey.

Ankara says they were involved in the attempted coup on July 15 last year. Turkish officials say the group are traitors.

We protest the verdict of Greek judiciary on the rejection of our extradition demand regarding the eight putschists. https://t.co/Xebyx9S159

— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) January 26, 2017

“We demand that the eight soldiers be tried again. This is a political decision, Greece is protecting and hosting coup plotters,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview on Friday.

“We are evaluating what we can do. There is a migration deal we signed, including a readmission deal with Greece, and we are evaluating what we can do, including the cancellation of the readmission deal with Greece,” Cavusoglu added.

The court case

The men – three majors, three captains and two sergeant-majors – landed a helicopter in northern Greece a day after the coup on July 15 last year.

They sought political asylum, saying they feared for their lives in Turkey.

They deny playing a role in the attempt to oust President Tayyip Erdogan, which has led to a purge of the military and civil service.

The court said the possibility of their rights being violated or reduced, regardless of the degree of guilt or the gravity of the crimes they are accused of, does not allow the implentation of extradition rules.

The court also ruled the soldiers must be freed. They have been kept in protective custody pending final decisions on their asylum applications.

The soldiers’ lawyer, Christos Mylonopoulos, says the verdict is “a great victory for European values”.

Has the EU made any comment?

Yes.

A spokeswoman has said it is confident its cooperation with Turkey on migration will continue to hold firm.

Relations between Greece, Turkey and the EU

Relations between Greece and Turkey, neighbours and NATO allies, have improved over the years.

However, they remain at odds over territorial disputes and ethnically-split Cyprus.

The two countries play an important role in the handling of Europe’s worst migration crisis in decades.

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The EU depends on Ankara to enforce a deal to stem mass migration to Europe.

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