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Defense Minister under fire for saying Armed Forces also in charge of “internal security”

Defense Minister, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, was forced to clarify the role of the Greek Armed Forces in the national security of the country. He came under the fire of opposition for having said during a debate in Parliament that “the Armed Forces were in charge for the external and the internal security.” Hi ststatements triggered an outrage with SYRIZA reminding him that Armed Forces are charge for internal security only in military regimes and dictatorships.

In a statement late on Friday, Panagiotopoulos said that “the Armed Forces guarantee the security of the external borders while the Security Forces (Police) provide the internal security in the country.

“We believe that the situation is evolving as a potential threat to the country’s security, not that the army will face it,” Panagiotopoulos said further during the debate of the ministry’s draft bill on the upgrade of F-16 and Mirage-2000 fighter jets on Friday. He reminded to SYRIZA that its coalition government partner Panos Kammenos had said in April 2015 that “the army guarantees the country’s internal security”.

Panagiotopoulos initial statement in the Parliament was:

“The Ministry of Defense does not relinquish its burden and responsibility, but comes and assumes additional burden and responsibility in order to protect security. of external borders but also of internal security. ”

“You will see if you show patience and kindness in a short time from today what will be the best performance in terms of both border control and internal security,”  he had added while speaking about the role of the new “National Coordination for Refugees,” Alkiviadis Stefanis, who is also Deputy Defense Minister.

Main opposition SYRIZA sharply attacked Panagiotopoulos’ statements and called on Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whether he has given such a mandate to the Defense Ministry.

“If is is so, things are serious. If not, the PM must deny it as quickly as possible because such statements pose a threat to our democracy,” SYRIZA stressed.

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