Raising the incendiary rhetoric another notch, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos lashed out against Recep Tayyip Erdogan Monday, saying that the Turkish president “has gone completely crazy.”
Speaking to journalists outside the Parliament in Athens about the fate of the two Greek soldiers held in Turkey and Ankara’s provocations in the Aegean, Kammenos said there are no lines of communication with Erdogan.
“We’re talking about Erdogan, who goes out and publicly insults the US and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” he said, adding that “Turkey has no courts while its justice system works under the orders of the sultan [Erdogan].”
The two soldiers, he said, could, under these circumstances, be held there for 15 years.
“You cannot answer to a madman,” he said, referring to the Turkish leader.
The two soldiers have been held for a month in Turkey without any charges being brought against them yet.
Kammenos, who is also the leader of the right-wing junior coalition partner, Independent Greeks (ANEL), said Turkish authorities have so far found nothing to prosecute the two soldiers but warned of a worst-case scenario reminiscent of the film “Midnight Express,” based on the travails of an American who served time in a Turkish prison in the 1970s.
“If you watch ‘Midnight Express,’ you will see that they kept on making up charges against him,” he said, adding that “nothing works democratically there [Turkey].”
He also expressed concern that an incident could occur in the Aegean.
“They may want to provoke this but you must know that the Turkish military is in a dire state at this moment,” he said, adding that, for its part, Greece “is ready.” He clarified that Greece will not take the bait but noted that if Turkey violates Greek national sovereignty, then “we will respond as we should.”
His comments drew a storm of reaction from opposition parties. The leader of the Movement for Change, Fofi Gennimata, said his “rant” was not befitting of a defense minister, and called on the prime minister to rein him in.