ATHENS – Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said he wants Greece to let NATO use its military bases to fight terrorism, contrary to the stance of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Radical Left SYRIZA party which opposes the military alliance.
In comments at a conference on defense and security organized by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce in Athens, Kammenos said, “Greece is ready to undertake this initiative in NATO’s southern sector.”
He said that Greece would grant the use of “facilities, our armed forces and large bases in the region of the southern Aegean, to facilitate the forces of the alliance in the war against terrorism.”
Kammenos is the leader of the Independent Greeks (ANEL) party that is the junior partner in the coalition led by SYRIZA, which is opposed to NATO.
At one point, Tsipras talked about taking Greece out of the alliance but has moderated his tone since.
Kammenos has several times set he wanted to set policies opposed to his own ruling coalition and taunted Turkey, a fellow NATO member.
Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias also disagrees with boosting NATO’s role and diplomatic sources told Kathimerini the government was upset that Kammenos was talking about military matters at a public conference.
He also went after Turkey again, questioning how that government’s officials could be visiting Athens at the same time its fighter jets routinely violate Greek air space and engage in mock dog fights with Greek fighters.
His comments, which were made at the conference, followed a meeting with Turkey’s Ambassador in Athens Kerim Uras.