Greek Defence Minister: Coronavirus has affected the Turkish Armed Forces

Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos

Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos

The Greek Minister of Defence, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, in an interview yesterday said that the “alarms” against Turkey remains despite their scale down of aggression against Greece, as they struggle to deal with the coronavirus pandemic that has killed, according to official sources, over 3,000 Turks.

It is likely that the death toll and official infection rate of over 117,000, is much higher as Turkey continues to arrest journalists and social media users who challenge the official figures.

“The alarm remains,” said Panagiotopoulos. “The pandemic has affected the Turkish Armed Forces, it is obvious, their presence is continuous but reduced, we would like it to stop completely.”

Panagiotopoulos then referred to a personal conversation he had with Turkish “Defense” Minister Hulusi Akar during the last NATO meeting of the Ministers of Defense.

“We discussed with my Turkish counterpart and he informed me about the cancellation of one of the largest Turkish exercises in the Mediterranean. These informal discussions often take place, I for my part wished him all the best and reminded him that the purpose of the Greek side is to have peace and good neighbourly relations,” he said.

Yesterday, at 15:18, a pair of Turkish F-16 aircrafts illegal violated Greek airspace and flew over the islands of Psara and Antipsara at 23,000 feet.

Ankara is trying to challenge Greek air and naval defence, but so far the Navy and Air Force are regularly confronting Turkish actions, proving that the “fortification” of our borders remains powerful to the detriment of Turkey.

Reliable information states that since the morning, an attempt has been made by the Turks, through their Coast Guard, to support the attempt of a boat with immigrants to cross into Greek waters and land on Greek territory. The Turkish attempt occurred close to Lesvos.

At the same time, Deputy Minister of Immigration George Koumoutsakos, had a teleconference with the Executive Director of FRONTEX (European Border and Coast Guard Agency), Fabrice Lezeri. The teleconference focused on the presence of FRONTEX and its operations in the Aegean and Evros to deal with migration flows.

The two sides stressed Greece’s very good cooperation with FRONTEX and the need for further strengthening, in view of the possible increase in immigration flows during the summer months.

According to the Ministry of Immigration, Koumoutsakos particularly referred to the fact that Turkish coastguards have recently been spotted escorting boats with illegal immigrants trying to reach Greek territorial waters, a behaviour that is unacceptable practice and a clear violation of of the 2016 EU-Turkish agreement.

Koumoutsakos noted the positive contribution of the active presence of FRONTEX during the recent tension caused by Turkey in Evros.