Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that he raised the issue of Turkish escalation of tension in the Aegean Sea and of the two Greek servicemen who are being held in Edirne without trial, at his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, scheduled on the sidelines of the NATO Summit meetings.
At a press conference, Tsipras said the nearly two-hour meeting with the Turkish president was not an easy meeting, because of those two issues, but he said that the case of the two officers was "a major issue of ethical, symbolic and substantive meaning in the relations between the two countries."
Erdogan, he said, brought up in response the issue of the eight Turkish servicemen who had fled to Greece after a coup, and whose extradition the Turkish government has asked for. (The eight are awaiting the completion of asylum procedures and the issuing of travel documents.)
The issue of the eight Turkish officers is very important to Erdogan, but Tsipras said he had told the Turkish president it bears no relation to that of the two Greek officers.
Greece does not welcome individuals who have participated in coups against democratic countries, but Greek justice is independent, Tsipras said he told Erdogan, adding that in terms of the two Greeks, held for entering Turkey during a patrol, "I was not asking (Erdogan) for a favor, I said that the necessary processes must go ahead."
According to the premier, the two leaders also decided to work towards reducing tension in the Aegean and welcomed the collaboration on migration, especially as based on the agreement between the EU and Turkey. The related ministers of the two countries will remain in closer contact, the Greek premier said, commenting that recent migration flows had shown no spikes or cause for concern.
Asked to comment about the different stance his coalition partner, ANEL leader Panos Kammenos keeps on the Greece-FYROM name issue agreement, Tsipras said the differences in opinion are well known, but the government has its own obligations.
"We are waiting to see if the government of Skopje will manage to fulfill the obligations from the Prespes Lakes (name issue) agreement, and I hope it certainly does so, because it is a historical intervention that resolves chronic issues in our foreign policy," the premier said.
Overall, Tsipras said he left more hopeful from the meeting with Erdogan, which followed the NATO meeting, "a difficult summit highlighting the different positions of member-states on critical issues," he said.
At the NATO meeting, the Greek premier said, he also raised the issue of Turkish escalation of tension in the Aegean, calling it "an open wound in NATO that must close immediately" and the issue of the two held servicemen as well.