Greek National Defense Minister Panos Kammenos held a brief meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg yesterday in Brussels, a day ahead of the Alliance Defense Ministers’ meeting to be held today and which Kammenos could not attend due to today’s new Greek Parliament swearing-in ceremony. As he highlighted, during the 20-minute-long meeting, Greece remains committed to the Alliance, while he also informed Stoltenberg of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ interest to meet him in the near future.
Kammenos’ assurance regarding the country’s role in the Alliance comes amid what is seen as a Greek pro-Russian shift, which according to National Defense Ministry sources does not affect Athens’ obligations to NATO. “We gave assurances that the new government will continue its cooperation and good relations with the Alliance in joint exercises, in joint military operations and of course respecting international agreements,” the Greek National Defense Minister stressed in a statement issued after the meeting. Furthermore, according to Greek newspaper “To Vima,” Kammenos underlined that Greece is among the few countries exceeding the 2% limit of defense spending, while he expressed his confidence to revive the Greek defense industry.
In addition, the Greek Minister noted that NATO’s Readiness Action Plan (RAP) for Eastern European countries must also have a southern dimension, as Greece and other countries of the European South are facing waves of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa, among whom might sneak in dangerous jihadists, plotting attacks against European targets.
The meeting was also attended by the Chief of Hellenic National Defense General Staff (HNDGS), General Mikhail Kostarakos, and NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow.
The Greek National Defense Minister stated the following:
“The meeting with NATO Secretary General, Mr. Stoltenberg, and NATO Deputy Secretary General and responsible for military affairs, Mr. Vershbow, was completed shortly before. We came today, as a Greek delegation, along with General Kostarakos, the Chief of HNDGS, with the Greek NATO representative who will represent Greece also in the Defense Ministers’ Meeting tomorrow.
We assured each other about NATO’s good relations with Greece and the continuation of the cooperation with the Alliance. We assured them that the new government will continue the cooperation and good relations with the Alliance in common exercises, in common military activities and with respect to international agreements. I clarified that relations with third countries, non-NATO members, will not affect our good relations with the Alliance and that we will remain in the frameworks provided for by the agreements.”