Georgian president hands freed sailors over to Erdoğan

Georgian president hands freed sailors over to Erdoğan

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Georgian president hands freed sailors over to Erdoğan

Prime Minister Erdoğan (R) moves to hold Arda Arıcıoğlu, who was born while his father Mustafa Arıcıoğlu was held captive, while Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (C) watches. AA photo

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili handed three Turkish sailors who were freed by their Somali captors over to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today. 

Three Turkish and 15 Georgian sailors arrived in Turkey on board a plane belonging to Georgian carrier Air Zena after being released Jan. 11.    

The sailors of the Greek merchant ship Olib-G were abducted by Somali pirates in September 2010. The 18-member crew included Turkish sailors Mustafa Arıcıoğlu, Fuat Özçelik and Yakup Öztürk along with 15 seamen from Georgia

Erdoğan and Saakashvili greeted the sailors at Istanbul's Atatürk Airport, where Erdoğan said "the cooperation between Turkey and Georgia exhibited in this special instance would go down in history as a mark of friendship and brotherhood between the two nations." 

The families of the sailors embraced their loved ones upon their arrival. Arıcıoğlu’s wife, Aysel Önge Arıcıoğlu, said she had given up hopes of seeing her husband again after her pleas for help received no response from the prime ministry or other authorities. 

She said she was pregnant with their second child at the time of the kidnapping and that she and her two children went through financial and emotional difficulties while her husband was gone.