The Minister of National Defence Evangelos Apostolakis met with his Egyptian counterpart General Mohamed Zaki in Cairo, on 7 March 2019.
During their bilateral contact, following the official reception ceremony at Egypt’s Ministry of Defence, the modern security environment in the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East was analysed. Further talks included the current framework of bilateral defence cooperation as well as the perspectives of its further enhancement, in the fields of training and exercises, as well as at the level of defence industry.
The Minister of National Defence stressed the following, among others, during his statements:
· The recurrent conduct of the “MEDUSA” exercise in recent years, demonstrates the continuously improving level of the bilateral defence cooperation.
· The active promotion and materialisation of international defence initiatives and cooperations contributes to the support of peace and stability in the wider region. The promoted trilateral defence cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt is included in this context.
· The aggressive stance of the Turkish Armed Forces in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean is managed with decisiveness and composure by the Hellenic Armed Forces. A special mention was made of the Confidence Building Measures activation procedure between Greece and Turkey, for the prevention of tension.
In the context of the visit, the Minister of National Defence extended an invitation to his Egyptian counterpart to make a bilateral visit to Greece and participate in the 3rd Trilateral Meeting of the Ministers of Defence of Greece, Egypt and Cyprus.
Afterwards, the Minister of National Defence laid a wreath to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the grave of President Anwar Sadat.
Below you can read the statement of the Minister of National Defence:
Journalist’s Question: Minister, what did you take away from your visit to Egypt, the first you make as the Minister of National Defence?
E. APOSTOLAKIS: First of all I would like to thank my counterpart, the Minister of Defence General Zaki, for the exceptional hospitality and the invitation he extended to us to visit Egypt. As you already know, cooperation with Egypt goes way back. Particularly in recent years, it has become extremely effective. Pertaining to the Armed Forces, we have developed a fairly good cooperation regarding training and military exercises, with “MEDUSA” exercise as its capstone, conducted once a year – and there was a time when we conducted two in the same year – where we implement what we have achieved in the joint training of the two countries’ Armed Forces. Furthermore, in Egypt, I talked with my counterpart Mr Zaki about issues of regional security, energy security, terrorism and we once more concluded that it is essential for states which share the same principles and goals to cooperate, especially in this region where in this particular period there are very serious problems in the Eastern Mediterranean. The cooperations between Greece, Egypt and Cyprus and Greece, Israel and Cyprus are exceptionally effective. We believe that this effort must go on, on every level, so that cooperation will be more effective and our capabilities, as cooperating states, will reach higher levels.
Journalist’s Question: Minister, what is the message of today’s meeting to the wider region, on behalf of the cooperation between Greece and Egypt.
E. APOSTOLAKIS: The message is that our cooperation will carry on, reaching higher levels, using any means necessary in order to increase the capabilities for synergy and cooperation, aiming to preserve peace and security in the region.
Journalist’s Question: What is the role of the Greek expatriates in this effort, who constitute the bridge between the two countries?
E. APOSTOLAKIS: I believe that the Greek expatriates in Egypt play an essential role regarding relations between Greece and Egypt. I believe, and it is apparent, that they are very well supported by the Egyptian state and they enjoy a very good cooperation. I consider their role essential on communication between the two states’ societies, and furthermore, they are the ambassadors of Greece on issues of culture and communication between the two peoples. Besides, the history of Greek expatriates in Egypt goes way back. We know that they were numerous, very well organised and these elements persist, and are still apparent to this day. Furthermore, the Egyptians, my counterpart and everyone I have talked with, have only good things to say about the Greek expatriates from the point of view of cooperation and participation in social efforts and even in the country’s financial activities. So I believe that the messages for the Greek expatriates are very positive.
Thank you very much.