ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey has suspended its migrant readmission deal with Greece, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted as saying by state-run Anadolu agency, days after Greece released from prison four Turkish soldiers who fled there after a 2016 attempted coup.
The four soldiers were released on Monday after an order extending their custody expired. A decision on their asylum applications is still pending.
“We have a bilateral readmission agreement. We have suspended that readmission agreement,” Cavusoglu was quoted as saying, adding that a separate migrant deal between the EU and Turkey would continue.
Under the bilateral deal signed in 2001, 1,209 foreign nationals have been deported to Turkey from Greece in the last two years, data from the Greek citizens’ protection ministry showed.
Cavusoglu was quoted as saying he believed the Greek government wanted to resolve the issue about the soldiers but that Greek judges were under pressure from the West.
“The Greek government wants to resolve this issue. But we also see there is serious pressure on Greece from the West. Especially on Greek judges,” Cavusoglu was quoted as saying.
The eight soldiers fled to Greece following the July 2016 failed coup in Turkey. Ankara has demanded they be handed over, accusing them of involvement in the abortive coup. Greek courts have rejected the extradition request and the soldiers have denied wrongdoing and say they fear for their lives.
In May, Greece’s top administrative court rejected an appeal by the Greek government against an administrative decision by an asylum board to grant asylum to one of the Turkish soldiers.
Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Karolina Tagaris in Athens; Editing by Daren Butler