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Greek Alt. DM: ‘Undeclared war’ in Aegean; justice minister says 8 Turk asylum-seeking officers to be freed

Greece’s new alternate defense minister, Fotis Kouvelis, on Monday referred to an “undeclared war” in the Aegean between Greek and Turkish forces, an eyebrow-raising statement that comes after the veteran leftist lawmaker was recently brought out of “political retirement” to assume a Cabinet post.

“We’re essentially in an undeclared war, in the sense that (airspace) violations and overflights (of Greek islands) by Turkish planes are practically a daily occurrence, with the result being Greek planes – and ships in the Aegean – obliged to make interceptions,” he told a radio program on the state-run broadcaster.

Kouvelis, who previously joined a coalition government under center-right prime minister Antonis Samaras before breaking with his partners and supporting the holding of a snap election in January 2015, also referred to the unacceptable and continued incarceration of two Greek servicemen being held in pre-trial detention in Turkey since March 1, 2018.

Among others, he charged that an “illegal delay” in adjudicating the case is evident. Kouvelis, who joined the poll-trailing Tsipras government as an out-of-Parliament Cabinet member, has previously served as the president of the Athens Bar Association.

Kouvelis’ statement came on the same day as the relevant justice minister, Stravros Kontonis, said eight Turkish officers and NCOs that fled to Greece and requested political asylum after a failed coup in the neighboring country will probably be released from detention next month.