Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras needs to clarify his position towards a visit to three Aegean border islands by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos that was attended by officials from far-right Golden Dawn, lawmakers from socialist PASOK and centrist Potami told Parliament on Monday.
Kammenos – who is also leader of the right-wing governing coalition partner Independent Greeks – toured military facilities on Monday at the southeastern Aegean islands of Kastelorizo, Rho and Strongyli accompanied by high-ranking defense officials and members of Parliament’s defense committee, in a gesture widely seen as expressing support in the wake of comments from Turkish officials questioning Greece’s borders.
The visit, however, has raised concern among opposition parties, which see the defense minister’s tactics as grandstanding that could lead to an escalation of tension with Ankara.
PASOK House representative Thanasis Theoharopoulos described the visit to Kastelorizo as a “nationalist-populist gathering,” taking issue with the presence of Golden Dawn lawmaker Ilias Kasidiaris and other officials from the neo-Nazi party.
“The defense minister’s stance on national issues is leading the country down a dangerous path, with the complicity of Alexis Tsipras,” Theoharopoulos said, referring to the leftist PM. “From the start we stressed that public relations stunts over national issues are extremely dangerous, a position that was justified by the shameful – to the country – images of government officials arm-in-arm with Golden Dawn.”
“Minister Kammenos is no longer merely farcical, he is becoming dangerous as well,” said Potami chief Stavros Theodorakis. “Patriotic politics has no need of politicians dressed in fatigues and Golden Dawners in civilian clothes.”