Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the issue of a possible exchange between the two Greek servicemen being held in a Turkish prison in Adrianople on charges of trespassing and the eight Turkish officers who fled to Greece on the night of the failed coup attempt in June 2016, in an interview to Turkish channel NTV.
Commenting on the results of the recent trilateral summit in Varna, Bulgaria, the Turkish president said: “They asked us to return the two Greek soldiers and we told them that there are 8 soldiers who tried to do a coup. First of all you have to hand over those (eight), if you give us them then we can put the two on the table of talks”, he said, while reiterating his position in another point in the interview saying: “in order for us to remove the issue of the illegal border crossing by the two Greek soldiers and to bring the matter, return the 8 Turkish soldiers.”
On the recent indent of the Greek flag on a rocky island, Mr Erdogan said the Turkish special forces had taken down the Greek flag. ‘Those three who raised the flag did not know that there would be a reaction? Our special forces went to the rocky island and took the flag down”, he noted.
Erdogan called for peace with Greece, saying he does not want any more tensions, amid provocations in the Aegean and Mediterranean.
The Turkish President said his country desired peace in the region. “We need peace now. Besides, our peace with you is like no other.”
Commenting on his recent visit to Greece Mr Erdogan said: “Young, dynamic [Greek Prime Minister Alexis] Tsipras desires to take a new step, in my last visit I saw the [Greek] president in the same spirit,” Erdogan added.
The Turkish president remarked on the “mistakes” that drove the Greek minority from Constantinople: “For many years, the number of our Greek citizens in our country has not been small. There were tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. But unfortunately, due to the mistakes made in our country, our Roman (want Turks called Greeks) citizens went to Greece. We also make mistakes and should point them out”, he said.