The two Greek soldiers held illegally in Turkey are also NATO and European Union soldiers, said Defense Minister Panos Kammenos on Saturday, during an informal Council of EU Defense Ministers held in Sofia, Bulgaria.
“At the informal Council of Defense Ministers of the European Union, we have once again raised the issue of the illegal hostage situation of the Greek soldiers, an officer, and a junior officer, who are in the high-security prison of Adrianople (Edirne),” Kammenos told reporters after the meeting.
“These army officers are not Greek army officers only, they are European Union officers who guarded the borders of the European Union. They are NATO officers and executives, performing and executing, as all the Allied Powers, Alliance missions,” the Greek defense minister continued.
“It is not a bilateral issue, the issue of the continued unlawful detention of our two army officers is a matter of the European Union and, of course, of NATO. More than 66 days of illegal detention have passed, and that from a country that wants to enter the Europe Union and continues to be a member of NATO,” Kammenos concluded.
The agenda of the defense ministers meeting
One of the key issues discussed in the Council was Permanent Structured Cooperation on Defense, for which the European Commission has foreseen co-financing of €13 million from the budget for research, technology and defense programs. Greece is among the four countries with the most approved programs.
The European Commission will also finance €6.5 billion euros to improve transport infrastructure to facilitate military mobility.
During the council, Defense Ministers were briefed on developments in Europe’s defense by the High Representative of the European Union on Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Federicα Mogherini.
NATO high-ranking officials also took part in the informal meeting, with an exchange of views on how the EU and NATO could strengthen UN peacekeeping and conflict prevention.
In the meeting Greece asked to be given the responsibility of the United Nations maritime surveillance authority in the region between Lebanon and Cyprus.