ND’s Koumoutsakos on escalation of tension with Turkey

“It is urgent and of strategic importance to re-examine and redefine the framework for the management and course of Greek-Turkish relations,” main opposition New Democracy ‘shadow minister’ for foreign affairs George Koumoutsakos commented in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) published on Sunday.

Koumoutsakos pointed to an escalating deterioration of relations between the EU and Turkey, most recently in Ankara’s confrontation with the Netherlands after Dutch authorities refused to allow Turkish ministers to visit and campaign for the Turkish referendum.

He noted that the distance between Turkey and Europe was constantly widening and forecast that this was not a good development for Greece and the region. In this context, Koumoutsakos said, Greece’s policy must adapt to the new facts created by Turkey, which was becoming ever more Eastern and less and less Western.

Focusing on Turkey’s escalating aggression and provocativeness toward Greece, Koumoutsakos said Ankara’s behaviou was “unacceptable” and said the period leading up to the Turkish referendum was exceptionally crucial “since no one can predict how far the Turkish leadership will go in its effort to extract nationalist votes.”

Even more crucial, he added, will be the period after the referendum if a ‘no’ vote prevails.
Koumoutsakos criticised a recent Turkish foreign ministry announcement targeting Greece’s president Prokopis Pavlopoulos as “dangerous” and “unacceptable brazenness”, and said it was part of a constant effort to artificially stoke tension. At the same time, he also criticised Greece’s Defence Minister Panos Kammenos and noted that “defence ministers should not make statements at times of tension.”

The New Democracy MP also referred to Greece’s role in the EU and the Eurozone, noting that Greece must remain among the ‘core’ countries as the only strategic choice. If Greece were to become established in the ‘second speed’ or ‘second circle,’ this would greatly weaken the country, he said.

“It would be a prologue to our return to the margins of Europe, our return to the Balkans,” he added, while also expressing concern about the increasingly volatile situation in the western Balkans and the flare-up of nationalist and ethnic tensions.