The easternmost parts of Greece, the islets of Strongyli, Ro and Kastelorizo, visited on Thursday the National Defense Minister, Nikos Dendias, accompanied by the Deputy Minister, Giannis Lampropoulos, the Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, General Mikhail Kostarakos, as well as the Chief of the Hellenic Army General Staff, Lieutenant General Christos Manolas.
As part of his tour at the units in the Area of Responsibility of the 95th Higher National Guard Battalions Command (95 ADTE) the Greek Minister met with the commanders and staff serving in the islands’ outposts, underlining the importance of their role. Earlier, Dendias attended the final stage of Field Exercise “Leonidas of Rhodes” from the Firing Exercise Range in Kattavia, Rhodes. The military exercise was also attended by an Egyptian Army representative.
“We are all certain that everyone who serves in the Armed Forces, but also the Army Reserve, have attended high-level training which they are able to apply practically and give self-confidence and trust to the Greek people. The exercise was named ‘Leonidas of Rhodes’ after the Olympic Games winner who managed to win the stadion, the diaulos and the hoplitodromos on the same day. And Leonidas of Rhodes achieved this triumph not only once, but in four Olympiads in the 2nd century B.C. and this was an unprecedented achievement not only for that time, but forever. The successful completion of today’s exercise has this symbolism. Despite the adverse financial circumstances which the General described before, the Armed Forces have the will, the strength, and the morale to fulfill any achievement that our country’s security requires. Moreover, they prove that the money invested in the National Defense by the Greek taxpayers at these adverse financial circumstances are properly utilized to enhance our national security, to enhance the sense of security of the Greek people. Our country, nevertheless, proves every day that it defends the enforcement of International Law provisions. ‘Instead of war, let’s choose peace,’ as Thucydides wrote. But at the same time, we are ready to defend our territorial integrity and our national dignity from every threat with unity and determination. Thanks to this same determination, Greece remains a factor of stability in the wider region,” Dendias underlined after the exercise’s completion.
“Warm” incident denied by National Defense Ministry:
According to Greek media, during Dendias’ visit to the Dodecanese islets, yet another “warm” incident occurred in the Aegean sky between the Greek CH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying the Minister from Strongyli islet to Ro islet and Turkish radar operators. The Turkish radar transmitted an unexpected message to the Greek helicopter, arguing that it is flying within Turkish FIR and it should leave. Allegedly, the Greek pilots did not reply to the provocative message and kept on with their scheduled course until they landed safely to their destination.
A few hours later though, the Greek National Defense Ministry clarified that the Greek pilots replied that they are flying within the Athens FIR and that the incident was finished without any further vexation, while no Turkish aircraft approached the Greek helicopter.