Greece hits back at Turkish threats over Crete

GREEK Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said last night that Turkey’s reaction to plans to deploy Cyprus’ Russian-built anti-aircraft missiles on Greek territory was a threatening factor in the region.

Tsohatzopoulos, on a visit to neighbouring Albania, said the possible deployment of the missiles on the Greek island of Crete would pose no threat to third parties.

On the other hand, Greece was not frightened by any Turkish threats, he told a news conference. “Their installation in Greece does not pose any threat,” Tsohatzopoulos said. “Even their installation in Cyprus did not pose any threat to anyone.”

The Cyprus government announced late on Tuesday that it would not bring the S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Cyprus, as previously planned, but would negotiate with Russia to base them on the Greek island of Crete instead.

Turkey had previously threatened to destroy the missiles if they were deployed in Cyprus.

Yesterday, Ankara said that basing the missiles in Crete would still increase tension in the Aegean.

“The reaction of Ankara… confirms once again that Turkey is a threatening factor to our area,” Tsohatzopoulos said.

“Turkey’s threats will never put Greece into difficulty. We will find the necessary force to their threat,” he added.

Western allies of Greece and Turkey heaved a sigh of relief at the plan to base the missiles in Crete, a move expected to cool tension between the two Nato allies.