Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos has been criticized by Greek officials after insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and accusing Turkey of pre-planning the arrest of Greek soldiers.
Continuing his provocative statement on Monday at the Greek parliament, Kammenos said that there are no actual charges against the soldiers, and the Turkish government has taken them hostage. He claimed that the detention of two Greek soldiers, who are accused of trespassing into the Turkish borders, was planned beforehand by Turkey."He [Erdoğan] is insane, who do you talk to? Here yesterday he made statements against Netanyahu. In a country where justice works with the commands of the Sultan, it [the detention] could last up to 15 years," he told reporters.
On Sunday, Greek Prime Minister's office released a statement about the conflict between the two countries, saying that Turkey holds the soldiers for political leverage. "The rule of law prevails in Greece, which has a Prime Minister who respects and is familiar with Greek judicial practice, and not a Sultan who can make promises on their (judicial) rulings," the statement said.
Following the statements, Kammenos' words towards Erdoğan have been strongly criticized by some of the Greek government officials including his own party Independent Greeks (ANEL).
Commenting on the statement of the Prime Minister's office, ANEL deputy and also Kammenos' cousin Dimitris Kammenos criticized Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, saying that ‘Sultan' remarks towards a president does not suit a Prime Minister's position. Also, he stressed that Kammenos' reaction was exaggerated. The main opposition New Democracy Party (ND) also criticized the defense minister's statements. "Mr. Kammenos' delirium is not worthy of comment. But then again he is not worthy himself to be the Minister of National Defense," the statement said. Centrist and social-liberal party To Potami (The River) leader Stavros Theodorakis made negative comments about Kammenos' assertions. "… I fear that he [Kammenos] is a problem for the country because the things he does, is not serving for the national interest. With his comments and exaggerations, whether he is dressed in an army uniform or a politician's suit, he rather creates problems rather than solves them, especially now, at a difficult time for the country," he said. Regarding the issue, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has slammed Greek claims about the detention of Greek soldiers in a written statement on Monday. "… The Greek authorities have started to increasingly lower the level of discourse against Turkey. These remarks, which are not in line with governmental responsibility, cause great concern."
The foreign ministry highlighted that Greece is applying the rule of law whenever the situation suits their interests but not the other way around.
Meanwhile, Tsipras made remarks about the escalating tension between two countries at the cabinet meeting yesterday. He said that the detention of the Greek soldiers is unfair and Ankara should release them as a gesture of good will. "Just as we, in the past, returned Turkish soldiers who may have crossed the Greek border by a few meters, I expect the Turkish president to today do the same," he said.