Protesting too much?

The usual tactic used by politicians when they have made a statement that they either should not have made at all or that they should have said in a different way is to insist that they have been misinterpreted. Following the public outcry provoked by a series of statements allegedly made by Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos during a recent interview with the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, conducted ahead of the NATO summit in Istanbul, the minister chose to respond to criticism about just one of his alleged statements – regarding the eventuality of reducing Greece’s national air space to below the current 10-mile limit. «The so-called statements… constitute the product of the clumsy distortion and fruitful imaginings of the journalist and are not worth commenting on,» said a ministry statement. Of course, we cannot know exactly what the Greek minister said to the Turkish journalist (who is very experienced in Greek-Turkish affairs) but all the statements were published within quotation marks, indicating that they had not been paraphrased but were a direct rendering of the minister’s words. The point is that it was not just the thorny issue of Greece’s national air space that the defense minister referred to – and caused a stir over – but an entire «package» of solutions to controversial Greek-Turkish problems, including the matter of the continental shelf and territorial waters.