Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos on Friday more-or-less broke his “radio silence” on the continued incarceration of two army servicemen, who allegedly strayed into Turkish territory last week, referring to “Greek hostages in Turkish prisons”.
In comments from Bucharest, and with Romanian defense minister Mihai Fifor by his side, the often controversial Greek defense minister also cited what he called Romania’s support for the “immediate release of two NATO, European and Greek soldiers.”
Kammenos heads up a small right-wing party, the Independent Greeks (AN.EL), that entered Parliament in January 2015 on a populist and virulently anti-bailout, anti-austerity campaign platform. Since then, Kammenos' party has served as the junior coalition partner in the leftist-dominated current government.
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Earlier, a main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokeswoman abandoned the center-right party’s up-until-now more reserved position over the continued imprisonment – eight days after the incident – of the two servicemen, lambasting the leftist-rightist coalition government in the process.
Spokeswoman Maria Spyraki, who is also a MEP, referred to “irresponsibility” and “ineptitude” on the part of the Tsipras government, while charging that Alexis Tsipras himself “doesn’t care, truth to told, about the return of the two Greek servicemen (a lieutenant and a sergeant) to their country.”
She also demanded that the government take all the necessary measures to return the two men back to Greece as soon as possible.
Similar incidents in the past, either when Greek soldiers strayed into Turkish territory or vice-versa, were always resolved in a matter of hours and at the brigade level. Last week’s incident marked the first time servicemen from either country were arrested and charged with a crime, with the first instance judicial level in the Turkish border city of Edirne failing to adjudicate the case in a timely manner.