by Aggelos Skordas
Following former Greek Armed Forces Chief Manousos Paragioudakis’ disbelief regarding the scenario the Turkish side is promoting on how the two Greek servicemen ended up imprisoned in Edirne, who said they were ambushed, Greece’s National Defence Minister Panos Kammenos also characterised them as “hostages” of Turkey.
“At the moment, we have two Greek hostages in Turkish prisons. I am asking for the support of the Romanian Defense Minister for the immediate release of these NATO, European and Greek servicemen”, Kammenos characteristically said during a joint press conference with his Romanian counterpart Mihai Fifor in Bucharest on Friday.
On Thursday, during an interview with Skai TV the honorary Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, General Paragioudakis, said that the arrest of the second lieutenant and the sergeant was a “set up” orchestrated by the Turkish special forces.
The two Greek army officers arrested and imprisoned on Thursday March 1st after crossing borders with Turkey remain in custody in Edirne as the court rejected the appeal for their release submitted by their lawyers on Monday. The decision on the fate of the second lieutenant and the sergeant of the Greek army will be postponed the Turkish court announced.
In light of the incident the commanders of the army divisions in which the two officers captured by the Turkish military were serving will be transferred to other posts, the Hellenic Army General Staff announced: Major General Dimitrios Bonoras, commander of the XVI Mechanized Infantry Division, will be transferred to the Fourth Branch of the Army General Staff, while Brigadier Andreas Floratos, commander of the Third Mechanized Brigade “Rimini”, will be serving as the director of the Infantry School.
Romanian Defence Minister Fifor: “Greece is an important ally”
After the meeting in Bucharest, Kammenos pointed out that the two countries “are working for peace based on a request of all the countries of the region to show respect for the International Law, the Alliance and whatever signed and agreed”, while he told the press representatives that he briefed his Romanian counterpart on the incident with Turkey.
“I am positive that this cooperation will continue and we will take it to another level of fulfillment. The message we want to present today is that, within the framework provided by the European institutions and NATO, together we can consolidate the European defense and face the challenges that we are confronted with. We are positive that Greece and Romania can build an arc of security, together with other nations, such as Bulgaria, Serbia, Israel and Egypt [...] It is a message for the European Union that we are ready to contribute to the defense projects and through this to provide jobs to the citizens of our states. We will work together for peace and for keeping peace and we do this observing the international laws and agreements”, Kammenos underlined among others while referring to the cooperation between Greece and Romania in the security sector.
On his behalf, the Romanian Defence Minister Mihai Fifor described Greece as an “important ally”: “We are part of South-Eastern Europe, at the confluence of the southern segment of the allied eastern flank with the eastern segment of NATO’s southern flank. That is why I believe the visit today of the Hellenic Defense Minister is so much more important, as it provided us with the opportunity to discuss about the challenges we are confronted with and, particularly, how we can jointly approach the most appropriate solutions […] We evaluated in this context the modalities to consolidate regional cooperation, naturally starting from the most recent developments, with a focus on the security situation in the Western Balkans and the extended Black Sea area, on the developments in Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, as well as on the developments on the southern flank, in the Aegean Sea and the east of the Mediterranean Sea, generated by the crisis in Syria and the refugee crisis.”