For the first time a military presence in Gavdos and Othonoi – Who is Albanian General Piro Ahmetaj who has been constantly reacting against Greece lately? – Evaluation of the Greek energy and some thoughts on the occasion of the presence of soldiers in Gavdos and Othonoi.
In the vortex of the COVID-19 pandemic and some other events, Greek military leaders and the Ministry of National Defense made a remarkable action.
Specifically, since July and for the first time, a military outpost was established in Gavdos, the southernmost point of Greece.
In fact, Cape Tripiti is the southernmost point of Gavdos and Greece, and just lays to the immediate south of Crete..
However, the military defense of Greece did not end with a new outpost on Gavdos.
It is expected that for the first time in Othonoi, one of the Diapontian islands, the westernmost point of Greece (Cape Boca of the Othonia is the westernmost point of Greece), and just to the northwest of popular holiday island Corfu, a military outpost will be established.
The military outpost in Gavdos
In the midst of the Greek-Turkish crisis, the Gavdos Municipality gave the green light for a military outpost on the island, providing a building next to the lighthouse of the island.
Immediately, Lieutenant General Charalambos Lalousis gave the order to build the outpost quickly and quietly.
Within a week the work was completed and for a few months now Gavdos has a military outpost with a capacity of 9 men.
More about the importance of the outpost in Gavdos will be mentioned later in the article.
The military outpost in Othonoi
In the same article, Manos Charalampakis mentions that very soon a military outpost will be established in Othonoi, the westernmost point of Greece. This is an old plan, which was not implemented, despite constant requests from the inhabitants of the island.
It is a beautiful island with an area of 10.8 sq. km and is 12 nautical miles from the northwest coast of Corfu.
It has a long history.
Isichios (3rd century BC) mentioned it Othronos.
Pliny (1st century) called the island Thoronos. Its current name Othonoi corresponds with Byzantine historian Procopius, who lived in the years of Justinian (6th century).
The locals also call it Fidonisi due to the presence of many snakes that forced people to leave the island. In recent years the island has been named Fanos due to the existence of a lighthouse, built in 1872. It is the first lighthouse to be seen by those sailing from the Adriatic Sea to the Ionian Sea.
In the 2011 census, the island had 393 inhabitants. Most of them are engaged in fishing, tourism and olive production.
Many inhabitants have a long naval tradition (in 1875, 80% of the islanders were engaged in shipping: 13% were captains and 67% sailors). Many islanders emigrated between 1900 to 1960 to Athens, Corfu and the USA.
Albanian general: Greek soldiers in Othonoi is provocative and stupid
This article could end here. However, once again, an unexpected reaction from neighboring Albania is forcing us to expand further.
The installation of the military outpost in Gavdos did not provoke any reaction from Turkey (let us not give ideas to the Eastern neighbors).
On the contrary, a high-ranking Albanian military head, General Piro Ahmetaj, who very often expresses anti-Greek positions in his publications with his articles, blows against our country.
But who is the Albanian General?
The truth is that the Albanian General sounded a bit strange to our ears.
So he apparently began his military studies in the early 1980s under Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha. He has 35 years of active presence in the Albanian Armed Forces. From 2009 to 2013 he was Albania’s national representative to NATO’s Supreme Allied Command.
In January 2014, he was appointed Defense Advisor to the Albanian President, while he has prepared studies for the reform of the entire national security and defense system of Albania.
Today Ahmetaj is a security adviser to the Democratic Party of Albania. Lately, with numerous articles and publications, he has been attacking Greece and trying to provoke the Rama government to react.
He strongly opposes the expansion of Greek territorial waters to 12 nautical miles in the Ionian Sea and the installation of a Greek military guard at Othonoi.
The importance of the Othonoi is huge as it “puts” Greece in the Adriatic, almost touching the Straits of Otranto, cutting off any Albanian (and Turkish) naval ambition.
In an article on 16/11/2020, Ahmetaj states: “On the other hand, if we consider it real news that Greece at the time of negotiations for the demarcation of water areas with the Republic of Albania plans to develop military capabilities on an island with 400 residents in front of a NATO member country, then this would be a serious challenge, consequently degrading the spirit of mutual trust and relations between the two countries. In simple words it would be nonsense.”
Also, Ahmetaj emphasizes that the installation of a Greek outpost in Othonoi means that our country has long-term goals (!) And that the military perception of Greece has changed to expand control of the sea area.
According to the Albanian General, Greece does not have the right to install a military force on Othonoi.
Is Othonoi a gray area?
What are the long-term goals of Greece imagined?
10-15 Greek soldiers from the Othonoi, will they land in Albania?
If Greece wanted to attack Albania, it could have done so in other ways, not by landing from Othonoi!
Mr Ahmetaj, let’s not forget Albanian airspace?
Instead of saying “thank you”, he blames us…
Ahmetaj then turns against the Rama government, which he apparently opposes, and accuses the Albanian Prime Minister of accepting the extension of Greece’s territorial waters to 12 nautical miles in advance, which will make it difficult for Albania in the International Court of Justice.
He also asks Albanian President Ilir Meta to demand detailed explanations from Prime Minister Eddie Rama for accepting the extension of Greek territorial waters to 12 nautical miles and the “militarization” of Othonoi, which “seriously threatens the position of the Republic of Albania in the Corfu straits.”
Does the Albanian General have close relations with some of his Turkish colleagues, such as the theorist of the “Blue Homeland” Cihat Yayci?
It is known that, at the suggestion and encouragement of the Turks, the 2009 Greece-Albania Agreement on the Exclusive Economic Zone was never ratified. And Ahmetaj’s current argument makes us think that it is directed by others…
Evaluation of the deployment of military outposts in Othoni and Gavdos
We welcome strongly the decision of Lieutenant General Charalambos Lalousi for the creation of military outposts in Gavdos and Othonoi.
The outpost in Gavdos, the southernmost tip of Greece, in addition to the sense of security it gives to the inhabitants of the island, is equipped with radar, which has a depth of 30 km around the surrounding area, where, let us not forget, Turkey has announced investigations in the near future.
In fact, there is the possibility, if necessary, to equip the outpost soon with even more modern electronic systems.
The outpost in Othonoi, so far, has not worked.
Let us hope that this has to do with some bureaucratic or technical issues and not with a change of intentions of the General Staff.
Shame and humiliation are the words that come to mind if something like this happens.
Okay, Oruç Reis has been sailing undisturbed in Greek waters for months, which the government “managed.” Of course, it does not come closer than 6 nautical miles to the Greek islands, according to the official announcements of the Greek military at least.
If it approaches or came closer, will they tell us?
Recently, Turkey insistence on the demilitarization of islands in the Eastern Aegean is futile and unfounded.
Moreover, Turkey has illegally deployed military forces in Imvros and Tenedos.
Unfortunately, no Greek government, in its responses to Turkey, calls on it to immediately demilitarize the two islands, which, according to the Treaty of Lausanne, should have security forces made up of indigenous Greek people.
Let us not get to the point where Albania starts demanding the demilitarization of Greek islands!
Returning to the issue of the Othonoi, we will await the developments on the establishment of a military outpost on the island and will inform our readers.
Michalis Stoukas is a correspondent for Proto Thema.