Defence Minister Panos Kammenos and certain other cabinet ministers are engaging in a dangerous game with the economy and the country’s security.
We have shifted from a calm, logical handling of Turkish provocations to the other extreme.
From the so far unsuccessful efforts to internationalise problems with Turkey, we have gone to introversion, patriotic flourishes, and bellicose announcements.
The warlike climate that Defence Minister Panos Kammenos is cultivating, with the toleration of the prime minister’s office, has caused grave concern among citizens.
It has also harmed the economy and the effort to exit the crisis by attracting investments.
Just as the tourist season is starting, with Greece expecting a record number of visitors, an uncontrollable Kammenos dresses up in military fatigues and makes war preparations.
Just hours after PM Alexis Tsipras attempted to tone down the rhetoric after Kammenos said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is “crazy”, the defence minister struck once again.
He said essentially that we are in a state of readiness for war, that we are moving troops, and that we are preparing to purchase weapons systems, to the delight of the arms industry.
Exploiting the public’s concerns about a possible military clash and the climate of rage against Erdogan, Kammenos is playing games in a bid to ensure his own political survival. He is banking on the “patriotic front” so as to remain in the limelight, because he has alienated his electoral base by signing the bailout memorandum.
What we learned from Kammenos
Kammenos said yesterday that if the Turks make a play for even a centimetre of Greek territory, they will learn their lesson, and we will trounce them.
He said it was decided that in the coming days 3,500 military personnel will be transferred to the islands, to the Higher Interior and Islands Military Command (ASDEN), which is being transformed into the [Aegean] Archipelago Command, and another 3,500 troops will be transferred to the border region of Evros.
“We are not expecting something from allies or friends, and we are relying on our own forces,” Kammenos said, adding that Greece will be exploiting its natural resources in the coming months.
As if that were not enough, Alternate Foreign Minister Yorgos Katrougalos said that Turkey does not want a war in the Aegean, because it cannot win it.
In both cases, ministers poured fuel in the fire for communications purposes.
If Turkey is maintaining a confrontational climate with Greece for political reasons, Greece appears to be falling into the trap.