Greek PM tours air force combat group amid spike in Turkish military activity

20 February 2018
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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras toured a Hellenic Air Force combat group (135th) on Sunday on the central Aegean island of Skyros, a visit that received closer scrutiny amid the latest spike in Turkish military activity in the wider region of late.

The ramming of a stationary Greek patrol vessel exactly a week ago by a Turkish coast guard cutter just off one of two rocky islets in the eastern Aegean, along with the continued harassment of a ENI-contracted drill ship in Cyprus’ EEZ, Turkey’s recent direct military involvement in the Syria civil war quagmire and shrill saber-rattling by official Ankara in practically all directions, have refocused Athens’ attention on its increasingly jittery neighbor.

Tsipras was also accompanied by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, the head of a rightist-populist party that serves as the junior partner in the current coalition government, an appearance that comes after press reports last week claimed friction between the two men after the incident involving the patrol boat.

The usually outspoken and combative Kammenos was conspicuously absent from the limelight after the Imia incident, with some press reports claiming that Tsipras received only a belated briefing of the situation at the time.

Tsipras is on the island with his family to spend the last day before Orthodox Lent begins in the country, i.e. the last day of the carnival season.

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