The Minister of National Defence Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos participated in the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council composed of Defence Ministers, where they looked through the progress on issues regarding the role of the European Defence Agency (EDA), the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the 13 new projects of PESCO’s 3rd Phase, the current situation of the Missions and Operations conducted in the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy and the EU’s cooperation with NATO.
The conclusions of the Ministers’ Council are expected to be discussed in view of the European Council, which will be held in Brussels, on 12 and 13 December 2019.
After the completion of the Working Meeting, the Minister of National Defence made the following address:
“Today we took an important step for the formation of a modern and realistic Common Policy regarding EU’s Defence and Security. It is a demanding and yet a necessary procedure, which must be realized in a specific framework of European principles and values.
Most importantly, the arising security challenges must be recognized since they concern all of us, either as a hybrid threat or as terrorism, or as an issue of military management. That is why we discussed the development of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the European operations, as well as the relations between the EU and NATO, which enter a new context.
Before the opening of the Ministers’ Meeting, the Steering Board of the European Defence Agency held a meeting. Greece pointed out the important role of the Agency regarding the reinforcement of the defence cooperation among the member states, as well as its know-how regarding defence issues.
I believe the European Defence Agency is the basic institutional agency, through which a number of investment initiatives and actions will pass and be approved, regarding the re-establishment of the Hellenic defence industry, as well as the cooperation in the research field, both with the private sector and academic institutions. For example, I could refer to the perspective of developing a Greek Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
The European Defence Agency (EDA), as well as the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), were the subject of the first Working Session. For the Greek side, an important issue is to determine the requirements for the participation of third countries or of their companies in PESCO programs. This stance of Greece, as well as of Cyprus, ensures the decisive role of the Council.
We also pointed out that third parties can participate, provided that their participation is not contrary to the Security and Defence interests of the EU and its member states. We are expecting the final proposal, which we agreed to jointly shape.
The second part of the Ministers’ Meeting looked through issues of operations, like dealing with security challenges and especially with the illegal immigration and the preservation of security in the sea region. We pointed out the increased importance that our country attributes to the contribution of EU’s missions and our dedication to the existing rules and provisions of the International Law.
Regarding the EU’s pilot initiative of “Coordinated Sea Presence”, we believe that the sensitive region of the East Mediterranean must become one of the regions of interest to expand the initiative, after its pilot stage is completed.
The works of today’s Meeting were completed with the joint EU and NATO Working Lunch, attended by the Deputy Secretary General of the Alliance as well. During our intervention, we stressed that Greece recognizes the constantly positive and structural cooperation between EU and NATO.
We also pointed out our position that the development of any cooperation must rely on the principles of “non-exclusion”, that is in the participation of all EU Member-States in the partial actions and initiatives, as well as on the autonomy of every Agency to make decisions”.