ATHENS – With tensions rising, Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA), Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis received support from the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition for firing off warning shots that Turkey should ramp down provocations in the Aegean.
Alternate Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos said after a meeting of the National Council for Foreign Affairs (ESEP) to discuss deteriorating relations with Turkey that Apostolakis was right to take a stern stance although Greece prefers diplomacy and good relations.
Katrougalos was said to be anxious over Turkey sending in squadrons of fighter jets to violate Greek airspace and as Turkish warships had previously cruised past Greek islands, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan growing more belligerent.
After the meeting, Katrougalos expressed the government’s “absolute alignment” with Apostolaki who said that if Turkish troops land on any Greek islet it will be “flattened.”
Katrougalos said “We have no interest in a spike in the rhetoric, but, on the other hand, the GEETHA chief sent a clear message about the preventive power of the armed forces, as he should have done,” reiterated by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, leader of the tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) who are SYRIZA’s junior partner.
Greece’s national rights, said Katrougalos, are “anchored in international law” which means there is no reason to provoke Turkey while adding Turkey has to resist “rhetorical outbursts and vacuous provocations,” said Kathimerini.
Plans are in the works for a meeting in January in Constantinople between Erdogan and Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras, the paper said after they repeatedly said they wanted to cool down tensions before Turkey cranked them up again.
New Democracy shadow foreign minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos said that any challenge to international law and the existing situation in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean “cannot be tolerated.”
“Ankara should not think that by cultivating the current tension it can create conditions that will force Greece to any form of negotiation. We seek dialogue, but dialogue cannot be the product of a political escalation of tension,” he added.