ATHENS – Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said his adminsitration’s calm, deliberate approach led Turkey to release two Greek soldiers being held since March 1 after accidentally crossing the border in bad weather.
He didn’t mention Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, leader of the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) who said the Greek soldiers were being held hostage on orders of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to force Greece to return eight Turkish soldiers seeking asylum after fleeing a failed coup against him in July, 2016.
Despite Kammenos’ constant provoking of Erdogan, which critics said ratcheted up the tension and led to the soldiers being held longer, Tsipras’ office circulated a “non paper” describing the “framework and actions” that led to the release, trying to show it was because of his patient policy, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.
That was an apparent attempt to also further distance the government from the debacle of his response to July 23 wildfires that killed 96 people with probes showing no disaster or evacution plans and a confused, chaotic, non-coordinated attempt to deal with the blazes.
The release of the soldiers led a number of government ministers to react a few days before the Aug. 20 end of three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($372.15 billion) although the tragedy has forced the government to postpone celebrations claiming it was bringing a recovery without mentioning, if so, it’s largely because Tsipras reneged on anti-austerity promises.
The first exchanges between the men’s parents with the Greek prime minister and president were also leaked to the press as Kammenos tweeted icons of the Virgin Mary in a nod to the men being released on Dormition Day.
whereas the country’s controversial defense minister, Panos Kammenos – who leads the small right-wing junior coalition partner – took to Twitter to post icons of the Virgin Mary.