Army chief draws Aegean red line

Army chief draws Aegean red line

With Ankara repeatedly disputing Greece’s sovereignty in the Aegean, the chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA), Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis, warned on Wednesday that Greece will ‘flatten’ any Greek islet in the event that Turkish forces land there.

“If they land on an islet, we will flatten it. And this is a red line that is adopted by the government as well,” he told journalists during a briefing in Athens. He added that if Greece ever had to defend itself, it would fight alone. “Our effort focuses on not having to reach that point. With the US and the European Union we want to ensure that the Turks will not go that far.”

Referring to the US-Greece Strategic Dialogue, whose inaugural meeting took place in Washington earlier this month, he said the US is looking for ways to ensure a balance in the region. “Greece works as a bridge and plays a positive role. The Greece-Israel-Egypt axis offsets the pressure exerted by Turkey,” he said.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos was on the island of Kastellorizo on Wednesday, where he declared that Greece will demarcate its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the coming months.

“Kastellorizo’s EEZ is of particular importance to our country’s economy. Within the next months, the declaration of the EEZ will unleash the potential for natural gas extraction for our country, [revealing] large gas fields that will meet the needs of future generations,” he said.

However, observers said that Kammenos, despite his mention of Kastellorizo, did not make clear whether he was referring to Greece’s EEZ in the eastern Aegean or that in the Ionian Sea and in waters off western coast of the Peloponnese, as former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias had suggested in October this year.

Kammenos also warned that those “that do not respect our national sovereignty and territorial integrity will be crushed.”

Meanwhile, a trilateral summit between Greece, Cyprus and Israel will take place in the Israeli city of Beersheba on Thursday with the participation of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The summit is backed by the US, which considers all three countries as stabilizing forces in a volatile region.

Tsipras will head to Belgrade on Friday for a summit between Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. A summit of foreign ministers from Cyprus, Greece and Jordan also took place yesterday in Nicosia.

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