The Minister of National Defence Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, accompanied by the Chief of Hellenic National Defence General Staff Lieutenant General Christos Christodoulou, the Chief of Hellenic Army General Staff Lieutenant General Georgios Kampas and the Hellenic Air Force General Staff Lieutenant General (AF) Georgios Blioumis, concluded today his visit to Larissa, where he visited the Hellenic Tactical Air Force HQ and the National Air Ops Centre. The visits were also attended by the Deputy Minister of National Defence Mr. Alkiviadis Stefanis.
The Minister of National Defence was received by the Chief of Hellenic Tactical Air Force Lieutenant General (AF) Themistoklis Bourolias, at the Hellenic Tactical Air Force HQ, and Brigadier General (AF) Georgios Bobolis at the National Air Ops Centre.
The Minister of National Defence was briefed by the Leaderships of these Major Formations on their mission and operational work, and the challenges they face.
After his visit at the Hellenic Tactical Air Force HQ and the National Air Ops Centre, the Minister of National Defence made the following statement:
“The monthly cycle of intensive briefings we were presented, along with the Deputy Minister, as the new Political Leadership of the Ministry of National Defence, from the General Staff, the HQs and the Commands of Major Formations of our Armed Forces, was recently concluded, at the Hellenic Tactical Air Force HQ.
We now have a more complete picture of all the problems, all the open matters, so as to plan our moves on the basis of the needs and priorities, and see how we shall move, in order to reach our goals.
The country’s Armed Forces are the country’s central arm of deterrence power against anyone who might have designs against its national and sovereign rights.
We preserve this terrific power, despite the problems and deficiencies, because our personnel, combined with the materiel, provide a satisfying result.
Our duty is to help the personnel of our Armed Forces and, in this case, of the Hellenic Air Force, to maximise the result of their efforts. This needs programming, prioritisation, planning and fast materialisation, so as to produce results. This is the tone that is given by the Prime Minister Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis to the present Government. This is how we should also perform at the Ministry of National Defence”.
JOURNALIST’S QUESTION: Mister Minister, how would you comment on the Turks; violations, and on the fact that they enter the Cypriot EEZ? Today, in Athens, we have the quadrilateral on Energy.
N. PANAGIOTOPOULOS: Since things are serious, they cannot be resolved after a 17 seconds long comment. However, besides that, I would like to say that, as far as the violations are concerned, this is, positively, one more indication of our neighbours’ provocative attitude. As we are trying to construct and implement Confidence Building Measures, such behaviours, coinciding with the discussions on open communication channels, are transformed to “Confidence Demolition Measures”, and are seen as such.
Having said that, the rest is assumed by the Hellenic Air Force, starting with the coordination performed here at the Hellenic Tactical Air Force HQ. As far as the Greece-Turkey issues and our neighbours’ illegal extraction activities within the Cypriot EEZ, it is an attitude that has finally been apprehended by all our Allies, internationally.
The EU reacts –some might say mildly, yet it reacts- but also the US express disenchantment and finally realise that the only trustworthy party in the region is Greece, which now act in the eyes of our partners as a factor of stability, promotion of security and peace in the area, and finally as a provider of security. This, alone, is a great benefit for us. We are alert, we are not afraid, we observe, we dislike such challenges, we do not challenge anyone, nor do we like being challenged.
JOURNALIST’S QUESTION: Mister Minister, you referred to the continuance. Will the tenure of the General Staffs’ Chiefs stand?
N. PANAGIOTOPOULOS: Listen, I have said since my first day at the Ministry that all this must be characterised of continuance and normality. As you can understand, I cooperate –and it is a pleasure, since the very first day- with the Military leadership of the Armed Forces. However, I cannot predict the future. In any case, this tenure will be completed when expected”.