The Greek government has distanced itself from the initiative taken by a group of Greeks to raise their country’s flag on islets in the eastern Aegean.
Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that the country’s foreign policy “cannot be implemented by the initiatives of private citizens. The government and state institutions are solely responsible for foreign policy”.
Defense minister Panos Kammenos joined in the chorus of disapproval saying that “when someone tries to project national sovereignty by placing the flag he must be able to ensure that he is capable of defending it”.
Speaking in parliament, Kammenos sarcastically called on the flag raisers next time they make a similar gesture to apply to the Greek army to receive a few rifles.
On Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said his country’s coast guard removed a Greek flag from an islet, whose sovereignty is disputed by Ankara.
The Greeks who raised the country’s flag say they did it to honor Giorgοs Baltadoros, the fighter pilot who lost his life when his Mirage fighter crashed off Skyros.
Charalambos Tsagalas, one of the group, said: “We did not want to provoke Turkey; we wanted to honor Baltadoros.”