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Turkey threatens to scrap EU migrant deal

Turkey's threat comes after a Greek court ruled against extraditing eight Turkish soldiers who had fled the country after last July's failed coup 

27 January 2017, 3:10pm
The Greek court said eight exiled Turkish army officers were unlikely to receive a fair trial in Turkey
The Greek court said eight exiled Turkish army officers were unlikely to receive a fair trial in Turkey
Turkey has threatened to scrap a deal with the EU on taking back migrants who cross over the Aegean Sea to Greece.

The threat follows a decision by the Greek Supreme Court not to extradite eight Turkish soldiers who had fled in a helicopter to Greece after last July’s failed coup. They have been accused of playing a significant part in the coup attempt, and of having links with a group which allegedly tried to assassinate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the night of the attempted coup.

They have insisted that they were not involved and would fear for their lives if extradited home. The Greek Supreme Court’s presiding judge ruled that the soldiers were unlikely to receive a fair trial back in Turkey.

However, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu described the ruling as a “political decision” and demanded a retrial.

“This is a political decision, Greece is protecting and hosting coup plotters,” he told state broadcaster TRT Haber.

“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.”

Under the deal with the EU, which came into play in March last year, Turkey accepts back migrants who cross into Greece if they do not apply for asylum or if their request is rejected. An EU spokesperson said it was confident that its co-operation with Turkey on migration would continue despite this latest spat.

Following last July’s coup attempt, the Turkish government has purged tens of thousands of people from every level of society, including military officers, schoolteachers and government officials.

Turkey says it has taken legitimate action to root out “terrorist” groups that had infiltrated the state, but critics warn that Erdogan has used the failed coup as a way of removing his opponents and tightening his grip on power.