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Newspapers displayed in Athens bear titles referring to worsening Greek-Turkish diplomatic relations Newspapers displayed in Athens bear titles referring to worsening Greek-Turkish diplomatic relations  (AFP or licensors)

Turks hold Greek soldiers who strayed across border

Two Greek servicemen are being detained in Turkey after straying over the heavily-defended border, as both governments haggle over their fate.

By John Carr

The two soldiers, a lieutenant and a sergeant, said they were patrolling the border area when they lost their way in heavy snow and inadvertently wandered into Turkish territory. The Turkish military, however, says it needs to do more investigating, which is code for whether the two might have been spying.

Athens is asking for the two soldiers to be returned, saying that troops of both sides often stray accidentally over the border. But observers here in Athens fear that Turkey could use the two men as bargaining chips in order to secure the extradition of eight Turkish servicemen who sought asylum in Greece after the abortive Turkish coup of August 2016 and have not been sent back.

It’s one more headache for Greek-Turkish relations, which have been spiralling into frigid territory for some months now, with border incidents in the Aegean Sea. The two Greek servicemen are to face a court in the Turkish town of Edirne on Monday.

Listen to John Carr's report
03 March 2018, 17:04