Greek ex-mayor fined 50000 euros for allocating state money to shepherd during Kardak crisis with Turkey
The former mayor of the Greek island of Kalimnos, Dimitris Diakomichalis was found guilty on Thursday for „using state money to send a shepherd to keep goats on the Kardak islets“ between 1989 and 1996, when the diplomatic crisis broke out between Turkey and Greece.
The mayor was fined 50.000 Euros, Greek website protothema.grreported.
The ex-mayor sent a 72-year-old shepherd, Antonios Veziripoulos to feed the goats in the disputed islets and allocated state money for Veziripoulos‘ expenses such as boat fuel, hay for the goats and the catering for the shepherd.
The former mayor said that his administration supported Veziripoulos by providing two million drachmae per year, which translates to 6,000 euros. „As the Kardak islets had a Greek flag flying over them, we had to support the shepherd. Now he is deceased and nowadays there is no such Imia soul,“ he said, using the Greek name for the islets, implicitly criticizing the softening tone in diplomacy between the two neighbors.
„Why am I accused now? There is no way I can accept that. I will proceed legally against that fine,“ he exclaimed.
The Kardak islets are a pair of two small uninhabited islets, situated between the Greek island chain of the Dodecanese and the southwestern mainland coast of Turkey.
A military crisis between Turkey and Greece was triggered when a Turkish vessel shipwrecked on the islets on Dec. 25, 1995. Greece claimed that the accident took place on its territorial waters, which was denied by Turkey, who claimed that the aforementioned islets belong to Turkey. The Greek military sent a soldier to plant the Greek flag on an islet in the east, resulting in the deployment of troops from both countries around the islets.
Turkey’s only female prime minister, Tansu Çiller stated at the time that Turkey was ready for a military operation and sent troops to the western islet to plant the Turkish flag, famously saying „The Greek flag will be removed and Greek soldiers will be sent away.“
Tensions were defused when then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, American delegates and the NATO Undersecretary spoke with both sides and the situation reverted to normal.
The area has been tense since late 2015 as Turkish and Greek coast guard and navy vessels frequently confront each other in the waters near the islets that are claimed by both countries.