Defense Minister eyes new NATO base in Aegean, closer ties with China, Russia

Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said on Friday that he planned to propose the creation of a new NATO air base in the Aegean in an upcoming visit to the US.

In a speech before a conference in Athens organized by the Economist, Kammenos referred to a ministry study which takes into account Souda Bay base and the needs of NATO though he did not provide details about which island he had in mind to accommodate a new facility.

Noting that Turkish fighter jets violated Greek air space during a recent visit by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias to Turkey, Kammenos said NATO should be aware about Turkey’s behavior. The presence of NATO forces and at the proposed base would help the alliance gain a full overview of Turkey’s behavior in the region, Kammenos said.

He added that “the further east and south” that the base is located “the better overview there will be and will help toward solving problems.

On the matter of negotiations, Kammenos said Greece would “have no other choice but to turn to other sources of financing” if creditors insist on “strangling” the country through liquidity restrictions. He said he was in favor of cooperation with China and Russia. “If they decide to remove Greece from the West, it will have to find its own way,” he said.

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