The Minister of National Defence Evangelos Apostolakis met with members and co-chairs of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus and the Congressional Hellenic Israeli Alliance, Gus Bilirakis, Carolyn Maloney and John Sarbanes, on Wednesday 5 June 2019.
Next, the Minister of National Defence had meetings with members of the US Senate James Risch (Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations), Robert Menendez (high-ranking member of the Democrats at the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations), Jack Reed (high-ranking member of the Democrats at the Senate Committee on Armed Services) and Chris Van Hollen.
During the said meeting, the modern security environment and the defence relations between Greece and the USA were discussed.
The Minister of National Defence stressed in his remarks the excellent level of defence cooperation between Greece and the USA, as can be seen from the numerous joint activities realised recently but also from the two countries’ strategic dialogue which took place for the first time in December 2018. Furthermore, he stressed the initiatives of defence diplomacy undertaken by Greece for the development of a wide spectrum of international defence cooperations with countries of the Middle East, the Balkans and North Africa, which contribute to the enhancement of stability and peace in the wider region.
The Minister of National Defence referred to Turkey’s violating behaviour in the Aegean and the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone, stressing at the same time the efforts made in search of activities / actions, in the context of Confidence Building Measures, aiming to prevent and avoid points of tension during the conduct of military activities. The Minister of National Defence made a special mention of the national views on the developments in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Wednesday night, the Minister of National Defence attended an event in the context of the 35th Annual Cyprus and Hellenic Leadership Conference, where he was presented with the “Soil Award”. The Minister of National Defence stressed that the said award is not addressed to him personally but to all the members of the Armed Forces, active and retired.
You can read the address made by the Minister of National Defence during the 35th Annual Cyprus and Hellenic Leadership Conference below:
Ladies and gentlemen
I am glad to be present today, among eminent friends and allies and at the same time a great pleasure to have the opportunity to address such an exquisite audience.
I would like to thank all the organizers of this conference:
The International Coordinating Committee-Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA), the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations (FCAO), the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) and the Cyprus US Chamber of Commerce, for honoring me with the Soil Award.
It is humbling for me to receive this award. As Minister of Hellenic National Defence, allow me to say that this award does not reflect personally on me, but to all the members, active and retired, of the Hellenic Armed Forces.
Thank you all. The zeal with which every single one of you encompass your work, indicates the significance and let me say love, that you attribute to Greece.
I would like to express my gratitude for your excellent work and contribution to educate public opinion on the relations with Greece. Not only here in US, but across the whole world, the Hellenic Diaspora, as a pillar of our soft power, has always provided great assistance. In a spirit of national unity and solidarity, promotes our country’s national rights, culture, education and history, sustaining Greece, along with brother country Cyprus, as powerful brand names across the globe.
Especially here, in the United States, with which Greece has achieved a longstanding strategic partnership that has been preserved through the prism of integrity, reliability, commitment, mutual trust and respect. We share tight bonds across the path of history. Our strong political, military and cultural ties, based on a common western heritage and democratic values, have forged our steadfast alliance.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Middle East and North Africa, our neighborhood, is a region of great strategic importance, dominated by a wide spectrum of challenges and risks. Inevitably, recent developments in Syria, along with energy lanes and respective energy security issues in the Eastern Mediterranean, generate serious concerns.
This security environment is highly complex and volatile. Considering the emerging challenges that shape today’s international geopolitical situation, we fully support that he most effective way to address security issues, is coordinated cooperation of regional and international allies and partners, as synthesis and not division.
Along with Cyprus, Greece, as a historic bastion of Democracy and an enduring pillar of stability, plays a significant role in the region’s geopolitical configuration and continuously seeks to promote cooperation, with the objective to achieve peace and prosperity in the region.
Greece maintains excellent relations with almost all countries in the wider region. We promote synergies, and act as a conduit among countries in the East Med and the Gulf. We participate in multilateral defence schemes between Greece-Cyprus-Israel, Greece-Cyprus-Egypt, and Greece-Bulgaria-Romania-Serbia, conducting exercises and holding meetings at Defense Ministerial level.
We strongly believe that the participation of the US in these defence schemes definitely sends a clear and solid message. I would like to highlight the significance of the participation of Secretary Pompeo in the recent trilateral summit meeting, between Greece – Israel – Cyprus.
The strategic cooperation with the US, combined with our commitment to NATO, constitutes a defense priority for us. In this respect, and investing in our long-lasting friendship, we are witnessing an increasing momentum and new aspects in our outstanding military relations.
But we have a difficult neighbour to live with. I am concerned about the destabilizing role and problematic stance of Turkey, expressed through unfounded allegations that disregard our national sovereignty and rights.
Furthermore, I would like to express our great concern over Turkey’s recent decision to carry out illegal drilling activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus. We therefore have called upon Turkey to respect the rights of Cyprus in the said maritime zone, and refrain from further unilateral actions that violate the International Law and undermine stability and prosperity in the region.
Greece’s firm policy and desire is the peaceful co-existence with its neighbors on the grounds of international law, extant treaties and legitimacy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In this time of unpredictable challenges, Greece remains on the frontline and has proven to be a pillar of stability and a security provider in the East Med, the Balkans and beyond. We support and promote stability, security and peace.
Let me simply state. We continue to need your valuable support.
Thank you all for one more time. I am especially grateful to have the Soil Award presented by you.