NATO chief calls for ‘calm’ amid Turkey-Greece crisis
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called for “restraint and calm” after Turkey suspended its bilateral migrant readmission deal with Greece in response to a decision by a Greek court to release eight former Turkish soldiers who fled the country a day after the July 2016 coup attempt.
Speaking to journalists following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) in the Defence Ministers’ session in Brussels on June 7, Stoltenberg said he discussed the ongoing feud between the two NATO allies with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Greek government.
“I think that my main message today is the importance of showing your restraint and calm, because it is important to try to solve these issues, and therefore restraint and calm is my most important message today,” Stoltenberg said.
In January, the Greek Supreme Court ruled against extraditing the former soldiers, a move Turkey called “politically motivated.”
Turkey has repeatedly called for the extradition of the suspected coup-plotters, including during Erdoğan’s official visit to Greece last December.
The soldiers arrived in Greece’s Thrace region aboard a military helicopter hours after the botched putsch.
Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said on June 6 he planned to brief his counterparts during a meeting of NATO defense ministers scheduled for June 7 on the earlier remarks made by Bozdağ regarding the eight army officers.
As tensions between the two NATO allies escalate, the Turkish navy has ordered one frigate, two gunboats and units from the Under Water Attack Team (SAT) to be on alert in the Aegean Sea to prevent possible “provocative actions” from Greece, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on June 7.
The frigate and the gunboats will patrol the Aegean Sea 24/7, while SAT commandos will stand ready to act if needed.
According to the agency, drones belonging to the Turkish military are also regularly flying missions over the Aegean Sea.