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Greek defense minister stresses dangers of equal distances policy to NATO chief

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NATO’s policy of equal distances is not just damaging to Greece but also to the cohesion of the military alliance and as such cannot be “accepted,” Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on the sidelines of a meeting of European defense ministers in Berlin on Wednesday, according to the ministry.

The Greek minister’s comments came after Stoltenberg called for a resolution to mounting tension in the Eastern Mediterranean between Greece and Turkey, in “the spirit of allied solidarity and international law.”

During his Berlin trip, Panagiotopoulos also had the opportunity to present Greece’s position with regard to recent developments in the region to the under-secretary general of the United Nations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, and to his German counterpart Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, among others.

“I stressed that Turkey’s aggressive and illegal behavior, in combination with the presence of a large number of navy units in the region, increases the risk of an accident and leads to a further escalation of tension,” the Greek Defense Ministry quoted Panagiotopoulos as saying after the meetings.

“I underlined that there can be no dialogue with Turkey so long as Turkish ships remain in the area. I explained that Turkey’s threats and provocations against sovereign member-states of the European Union endanger the security of Europe itself and of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he added.