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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Minister of National Defence Evangelos Apostolakis Attends  Distinguished Visitors' Day of Exercise "INIOCHOS 19"

E. APOSTOLAKIS: We are here once again to attend Exercise "INIOCHOS 2019", which is taking place successfully. As you know, it is a Joint Exercise organised by the Hellenic Air Force. We invite allied stated and NATO members. Currently, 5 states participate with aircraft, Italy, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and Greece. We have 77 aircraft participating in the exercise. The exercise is quite advanced, with many difficult scenarios, and is taking place across the entire Hellenic airspace.

First of all, it is important that the exercise is a great success. All participants will benefit from their participation. What is important and brings us to the next level is the cooperation among allied and NATO states. We send the message that cooperation, synergy, and good relations are what ensures security and peace in the region. This is the direction in which we, who have the same view and face the same threats, move, this is the message we send.

Q: Mr. Minister, this flight to Samothraki, Limnos, and Kastelorizo, what message does it send?

E. APOSTOLAKIS: The message we send is that we operate in the entire Hellenic airspace without having to ask anyone. It is Hellenic space. We exercise our rights; no one needs to be bothered, no one is impeded.

Q: Do the Americans and the Israelis accept this?

E. APOSTOLAKIS: Of course. They all participate, so it is not an issue.

Q: Mr. Minister, we heard for the first time the Pentagon talking about the F-35 and Greece. What does this mean? Does it mean that Greece is among the five countries who can acquire the new fighter?

E. APOSTOLAKIS: You are well aware that, beyond the F-16 upgrade, we are in the process of selecting a new aircraft, which Greece will acquire slowly, in order to enter the new generation of aircraft. This statement helps towards this perspective. We will see, we will examine it, weigh all the parameters, and see what we will do.

Q: Mr. Minister, we had a representative of the Turkish Defence Ministry stating that nothing will take place in the East Mediterranean and the Aegean that will not include Turkey. Once again, clearly implying its relations with Greece. How do you respond to this?

E. APOSTOLAKIS: Allow me to say that I can not respond to all statements, which I do not know where they come from and where they are founded. It is her view, I don't have anything to comment. What we do is exercise our sovereign rights, the rights provided by International Law and International Treaties; other than that, anyone can say whatever they want.