Defence Minister Panos Kammenos in a series of tweets has attempted to control the damage from a series of statements during his recent visit to the US.
Kammenos invited Washington to establish a permanent military presence in bases in Alexandroupoli, Volos and Trikala, and presented a proposal for multilateral Balkan military alliances as a supposed alternative to FYROM joining Nato after implementation of the Greece-FYROM Prespa Accord, which he said would serve to thwart further Russian penetration in the Balkans.
The PM’s office, Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis, and many SYRIZA cadres distance themselves from Kammenos’ statements and described them as inexplicable, though for some time there has been talk about expansion of the US military presence in Greece.
Kammenos said that he has not spoken to PM Alexsi Tsipras about his remarks because nothing has changed regarding their coalition.
He maintained that as Tsipras’ junior Coalition partner, he tabled proposals that express only his own views, despite the fact that he was paying an official visit to Washington as Greek Defence Minister, and not as leader of the small Independent Greeks party.
Kammenos’ retreat from his expressed position was viewed as a move to avert a break with Tsipras and a pull-out from the government, which many SYRIZA cadres now view favourably.
Indeed, the government, with a public statement by Alternate Foreign Minister Yorgos Katrogalos, has signaled that it can withstand a parliamentary vote of confidence, even without Kammenos’ MPs.