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Defense minister keeps wary eye on Turkey

VASSILIS NEDOS

TAGS: Interview, Defense, Diplomacy

Turkey’s continuing violations of Greek air space and waters could lead to a spike in bilateral tensions or to a “serious accident,” Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos told Kathimerini’s Sunday edition, adding that NATO’s naval patrols in the area can strengthen the country’s position regarding Ankara’s expansionist policies.

Asked about the spate of Greek air space violations and transgressions of the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) by Turkish fighter jets in recent weeks, Kammenos denounced the trend as propaganda aimed at domestic consumption.

“Greece knows there are forces [in Turkey] that want to create tension and, perhaps, cause a serious incident or an accident,” said Kammenos, who is also the leader of SYRIZA’s right-wing coalition partner, Independent Greeks.

“Greece will not be dragged into actions that might undermine its rights,” he said, adding that he had recently spoken to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, asking that the transatlantic alliance take action against Turkish hostility.

Meanwhile, the minister rejected criticism that NATO’s Aegean mission, aimed at curbing migrant crossings, had strengthened Ankara’s hand in questioning Greece’s sovereign rights, deeming that NATO states, and more importantly those who are also EU members, now had firsthand experience of Turkish provocations.

Kammenos referred to a recent incident in the Aegean whereby a Turkish torpedo boat allegedly executed maneuvers in close proximity to a Dutch frigate deployed in the NATO mission.

“This dangerous incident has been recorded and included in the Dutch captain’s report to NATO,” he said.

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