Defence Minister Panos Kammenos asked his Nato counterparts to take a “clear position” in the face of heightened Turkish hostilities in the Aegean and the Mediterranean, on the sidelines of a Nato defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels today.
Kammenos said that the issue “did not reach the Nato Council of Ministers”, as he wanted to first conduct bilateral briefings and provide evidence of Ankara’s actions to other Nato allies, apparently to galvanise support for Greece’s complaint.
Nato, in which Greece and Turkey are among the oldest members, has traditionally taken a stance of equal distances, when it has not directly met Ankara’s demands in the context of Alliance military manoeuvres.
“I briefed Nato ministers [one-on-one] regarding Turkey’s behavior over the past days, regarding the two incidents in the area of the Imia islets and the rhetorical tensions stirred by the statements of President Erdogan and other Turkish officials,” Kammenos told the state-run Athens New Agency, adding that he had presented evidence about the recent incidents and sought their intervention.
He also noted that the Coast Guard ship rammed by the Turks was mostly funded by the EU in order to patrol its borders, which are Greece’s borders, and manage migration flows from Turkey.
“It is inconceivable for a Nato member-state to behave in this manner towards another ally, such as Greece,” he said.
Kammenos said he was satisfied with the “positive” results after he shared “audio-visual material”, presumably of Ankara’s ramming of a Greek Coast Guard ship on Monday, with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and fellow defence ministers.
He said it is now understood that “Turkey has veered away from the behavior of an ally and neighbor”.
Kammenos was a bit bolder in his interview with the state-run news agency.
“The Imia are Greek islands. The Greek border patrol, Coast Guard, and Navy are present there, and we shall not back off on issues of national sovereignty for any reason, and we call on our allies in Nato and the EU to take a clear stand,” he said.