Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos’ constant digs at Turkey aren’t going over well in that Turkey, with Minister for EU Affairs Omer Celik describing him as an “impertinent political comedian” worsening relations between the countries.
Kammenos is leader of the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) who are junior partners in the coalition led by anti-nationalist Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, who, as did Kammenos, called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a sultan and blamed him increasing tensions and provocations in the Aegean.
With the EU supporting Greek demands for the return of two soldiers who accidentally crossed into the border with Turkey - while simultaneously praising Erdogan over a suspended refugee and swap deal - Celik called on the bloc to denounce Kammenos’ statements daring Turkey to try to take an inch of Greek land and provoking Erdogan, who doesn’t like it.
Celik said Europe cannot ignore Kammenos’ statements about a proposed military buildup near the borders with Turkey and criticized the Greek government for putting up with him, which Tsipras must, needing ANEL’s nine vote to have a scant three-vote majority in Parliament.
“The EU cannot ignore Greek Defense Minister while reminding the whole world of political principles. It should condemn this person. It should warn the Greek government. Principles are for everyone,” Celik tweeted, the modern social media method to avoid facing reporters or issuing press releases. “This ‘political comedian’ who bears the title of Defense Minister of Greece is constantly making provocations. By remaining silent, Greek government approves this provocateur who talks about enhancing military build-up against Turkey,” he said.
That came after Kammenos ordered an additional 7000 soldiers to take part in exercises in the Aegean before Tsipras reined him in and countermanded that, which Celik saying Turkey is closely following what the Greek leader says and does.
“We remind him that lack of principles and provocations come from his own minister. The level of the statements of the impertinent political comedian who bears the title of Defense Minister of Greece is a matter of Greek government. They are statements that have to be condemned by the EU. Otherwise, EU solidarity will not be based on principles. It becomes a cold war kind of hollow solidarity,” he added.