Defence Minister Kammenos urges ‘clear stance’ on Turkey in meetings with NATO allies

Defence Minister Panos Kammenos urged Greece’s allies in NATO and the European Union to adopt a “clear stance” regarding Turkey’s behaviour, in bilateral talks with his counterparts on the sidelines of the NATO defence ministers’ meeting held in Brussels on Wednesday.

“I briefed the NATO ministers about Turkey’s behaviour in the last two days and the two events, chiefly in the region of the Imia islets and the tension, the verbal tension, generated by the announcements made by Turkish President Erdogan and Turkish officials,” Kammenos said in statements to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA). He said the Greek side had also presented audiovisual material about the recent incidents and asked for the “intervention” of its allies.

“The Imia islets are Greek, the Greek coast guard and Navy are there and we will not back down on issues of national sovereignty for any reason. We ask our allies in the EU and NATO to adopt a clear stance,” he told ANA.

He also said that it was inconceivable that Turkey, an allied country in NATO, should behave in this way toward another ally, in this case Greece. The audiovisual material had helped his NATO counterparts and the NATO Secretary-General to realise “that Turkey’s behaviour was far from being that of an ally and neighbour.”

Talking to the ANA, he said the matter was not brought up at the ministers’ meeting because the briefings took place on a bilateral level. It would be brought up before the Council once all the ministers had been briefed and had seen the proof about Turkey’s behaviour, Kammenos added.

The defence minister also highlighted the fact that the Greek coast guard vessel involved in the incident had been co-financed by the EU and that Greece’s borders were also European.

“We not only have a violation of Greece’s territorial waters but also of those of Europe and, essentially, we have an attack by Turkey through ships and the ramming of a coast guard vessel, on an EU ship that effectively operates as a European coast guard,” he pointed out. This had already prompted clearcut interventions in favour of Greece on an EU level, he added.

Referring to the statements made by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, Kammenos said that these contradicted those made by Erdogan and other Turkish officials but gave no guarantee that Turkey will stop its behaviour in practice and in the field.