Greece's new prime minister gives green light on extradition of FETÖ fugitives

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 12.07.2019 00:08

The new Greek prime minister continues to show his difference from the previous administration by releasing one statement after another, all underlining his intention to build closer relations with Turkey.

The latest came yesterday as Kyriakos Mitsotakis gave a green light on extraditing the fugitives of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).

Speaking to a French magazine he said that extradition policies will be changed, the newly-elected prime minister said that the ones who do not have the right to asylum in Greece will be extradited to their home country, Turkey. Mitsotakis said that the Dublin agreement needs to be reformed and the extradition policies of the EU member countries should be in competence with each other. Yet, since these reforms cannot be achieved in a short-notice, the prime minister decided to issue his own reforms for the time, which are expected to enable the extradition process to work more quickly and efficiently.

Greece has been a major destination for prominent figures linked to the terrorist group fleeing Turkey. Ekrem Dumanlı, editor-in-chief of the FETÖ mouthpiece newspaper Zaman, as well as Cevheri Güven, a journalist involved in a plot by FETÖ to implicate a politician in a sex tape scandal, were among those who fled to Greece after investigations were launched against them in Turkey. Dumanlı is believed to be in the U.S. while Güven still resides in Thessaloniki.

Turkey has repeatedly accused Greece of being a haven for terrorists who committed crimes against Turks. Although the two countries are looking to fix strained ties, Athens has recently angered Ankara over a string of decisions on asylum and the release of terror suspects wanted by Turkey. For instance, eight soldiers involved in the 2016 coup attempt and then fled to Greece were released by the country's authorities despite repeated extradition requests from Turkey. Most recently, the country also released two other suspects involved in the 2016 coup attempt. Halit Çetin and Fatih Arık, former members of an elite underwater commando unit of the Turkish Army, who fled to Greece in 2017 after Turkey issued arrest warrants for the duo for their involvement in the coup attempt. In line with legal procedures, Çetin and Arık were taken into custody and held in a refugee camp for 18 months, a formal period for detention. They were later relocated to a secret location instead of being extradited to Turkey. On Monday, Mitsotakis, leader of the center-right New Democracy (ND) party, was sworn in as prime minister of Greece after having won over 39.85 percent of the vote and 158 out of a possible 300 seats in the July 7 national parliamentary election, in which all seats were contested. Mitsotakis has made clear that his first aims as prime minister are to alleviate overtaxing burdens on businesses and the middle class in Greece, create foreign investment opportunities, further reduce unemployment and give heed to calls for public order. Compared to previous Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the new Prime Minister Mitsotakis is seen by the people as more serious, better educated and more conservative, as well as a lover of the ideals of the EU.

Mitsotakis also signaled as soon as he was sworn in as prime minister that he will approach Turkey more closely than the previous administrations, expressing that the first thing he will do is call President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was the first world leader to congratulate him on his victory.

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