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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Comment by Defence Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos at the pertinent Parliamentary Committee for the 5-years Armed Forces upgrade programme

Comment by Defence Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos at the pertinent Parliamentary Committee for the 5-years Armed Forces upgrade programme
Comment by Defence Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos at the pertinent Parliamentary Committee for the 5-years Armed Forces upgrade programme

The Minister of National Defence Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos commented
today, Monday 28 September 2020, during the meeting of the Standing
Committee on National Defence and Foreign Affairs, which took place in the
Hellenic Parliament’s Senate Hall.

The Agenda was: “Drawing up and examination of the draft laws of the Ministry of
National Defence:

a) “Ratification of the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement
(Implementing Arrangement) between the United States Department of Defence,
represented by the Defence Logistics Agency – Energy, and the Ministry of
Defence of the Hellenic Republic, represented by the Hellenic Air Force,
regarding mutual fuel supply” and

b) “Ratification of the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement
(Implementing Arrangement) between the United States Department of Defence,
represented by the Defence Logistics Agency – Energy, and the Ministry of
Defence of the Hellenic Republic, represented by the Hellenic Navy, regarding
mutual fuel supply”.
In his intervention, the Minister of National Defence underlined the following:

NIKOLAOS PANAGIOTOPOULOS: “Thank you Mister President. Before my
brief comment, I kindly ask you to give the floor to the Armed Forces’ personnel
who worked on the technical issues, the details of this agreement, so that they
can explain, for example, that even at the level of balance, our country benefited
from these implementing arrangements, since they are essentially implementing
arrangements which result from the agreements, as well as some other technical
issues regarding the prices. You will realise that the prices are not randomly set,
but absolutely defined, and that the country benefits from this correspondence. I
do not know if you want the gentlemen to speak first and then allow me to
conclude, it is up to you”. (…)

NIKOLAOS PANAGIOTOPOULOS: “Coming back to resume my commenting, I
would like to thank the Air Force Colonel, as well as the Commander, who shed
light with the details they presented; these details lead to the conclusion that this
agreement is economically beneficial for our country, but they also remove the
doubts concerning reciprocity, which were mostly expressed by the Communist
Party of Greece, which said that “this agreement is obviously beneficial for the
United States that will use our installations for their replenishment; we will never
have this same need, only the Americans, since Greece will never send any
frigates off Hawaii, yet the Americans will be constantly present in the East
Mediterranean, thus being the only benefited from this agreement”.

However, there has been a need; a Hellenic Navy vessel was fueled by US
reserve at Souda Bay. If I am not mistaken, this happened last year, when our
reserve was low, and this is why we asked for the Americans’ assistance, which
they naturally offered to us. Therefore, this agreement, rather this implementing
arrangement, simply regulates the aid scheme between Allies.

Consequently, by ratifying this agreement today, the possibility to allow similar
aids is formalised. In any case, other than the legislative procedure we will follow
today and the day after tomorrow at the Plenary, there is also the essence; and
there is an essence.

The essence is related to various things: First of all, the timing dimension is
introduced. The Government decided that it is good, despite the fact that these

agreements were signed In April ’19 (as a matter of fact, as far as the first part of
the implementing arrangement for the HN is concerned, it was signed by the
pertinent Ministers at the time, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Katrougkalos,
the Minister of National Defence Mr. Apostolakis, and the Minister of Justice Mr.
Kalogirou, however it was not signed by the Minister of Finance Mr. Tsakalotos,
as we entered the pre-elections period). The other implementing arrangement
regarding the Air Force, was signed in April ’19 by all pertinent Ministers
(including Mr. Tsakalotos). Since the signed international agreements –as we
should all know– commit our country and not the governing party at the time, the
part of their drawing up and the “cross-party argument” ends when they are
signed and ratified by the Hellenic Parliament, according to the proper procedure;
this is valid for all international agreements.

On that basis, the agreement is binding for us. Our country does not have the
option to say that it changed its mind, because the government changed, and
doubt a signed agreement before third parties. Showing such an irresponsible
behaviour, as a country, will induce unfavourable consequences. The State is
committed erga omnes, and I believe that it is represented by its legally elected
Governments, as far as this part is concerned. Therefore, an agreement, an
implementing arrangement that has been signed, commits the Government which
rushed to have it ratified by the Hellenic Parliament, so as to complete the
procedure. Because, as you know, the agreement is completed – and it enters
into force, so that I also answer to this part of the question – on the date at which
the Hellenic Republic informs, through diplomatic channels, the US Government
on the completion of the relative domestic procedures.

Up to now, both the Greek and the US side informally benefited from some
things, yet this did not happen because the agreement we are ratifying today and
the day after tomorrow at the Plenary, was already into force. In shall enter into
force when we are past the ratification step from the Committee and the Plenary,
and when the US side will be informed on all this; as an agreement that falls
within the scope of Art. 36 para 2 of the Constitution, that is to say an
international agreement for trade and for financial cooperation, which requires its
legislative ratification.

Now, two or three points on why this agreement is thought to be beneficial for our
country: As we have already said, it positively contributes to the replenishment of
HAF aircraft and HN vessels. Primarily, more cases are going to emerge for HAF
aircraft, which will more easily be and operate outside the range of the national
replenishment system. For our battleships (as we are participating in NATO
exercises and operations, in international operations out of our range) the need to
use this agreement’s benefits will potentially be limited, yet existent; on the other
hand, the need will exist for Air Force aircraft.

I believe that the need for aircraft and vessels replenishment will be intense in all
countries that have signed the respective agreement with the US; and, to answer
to that question too, these countries are numerous. I want to also tell you that the
Mutual Logistics Support Agreement -MLSΑ- (which is the general agreement for
logistics support) has already been signed, or is in the procedure of being signed,
by the following countries: Spain, Canada, United Kingdom, Poland, Germany,
Italy, Turkey, Belgium, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, New
Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Honduras, Bahrain and the United Arab
Emirates. Therefore, it will be easy for HAF aircraft to enjoy such benefits by third
countries, shall the need arise, as they have signed the agreement with the
United States.

This safety for replenishment may be done without the demand for immediate or
prepaid deposit of the fuels’ value. At the same time, there will be a possibility for
a quantitative settlement for the supplied fuels, and the possibility to implement
an agreement for the replenishment of Greek means that are not owned by the
Ministry of National Defence, i.e. means of the Hellenic Port Police.

As you can understand, the profit for our country is obvious. I do not need to
historically analyse the importance of replenishment safety during peacetime, but
also in wartime, so that cooperation, operations, co-training, cross-means
exercises, aircraft or vessels from various countries, may be realised. I will only
remind you, for those who are interested in history, that the great counterattack in
Ardennes, in December 1944, with armoured vehicles, Hitler’s last attempt to
change the war’s course, was intercepted not only because the Allies –mainly
Americans- resisted in the Christmas of 1944, but also because the German

Armoured Divisions were out of fuel, and the unhindered refuelling was not
possible, so as to allow them to continue their advance, when it had started to
gain drive; this drive was interrupted, therefore the Nazi powers’ last attempt to
counterattack ended ingloriously.

In conclusion, the key points are the following:

 Execution of aircraft fuel exchange, as I already said, ground fuel and
other fuel in aircraft, vessels, vehicles, equipment, Armed Forces
replenishment units, by introducing scale economy.
 Specified price, and not an unprofitable – random price.
 Twelve-month time-limit for repayment.
 Benefit by the conclusion of the agreement, from means which are not
owned by the Ministry of National Defence.
 Possibility to apply this agreement also for the replenishment of means of
the Hellenic Port Police.
 Possibility for mutual fuel exchange at peacetime, but also in times of war
or emergency operations, or peacemaking operations, following an
agreement between the parts.
 Possibility for Greece to utilise the provisions of the agreements to be
ratified, also with third members who have similar agreements with the
United States. In this way, the flexibility and the benefits from fuel
exchange is expanded, also saving resources. I believe that the Hellenic
Air Force would benefit.

The ratification of the agreement by the Committee coincides with the arrival of
the US Secretary of State in our country. During this visit, it would be good to
promote the fact that our country’s strategic relation with the United States of
America is enhanced, extended and -why not- upgraded. I believe that it would be
good for the US side to know that, through this typical procedure, the
implementing arrangements, which have been signed since April 2019, progress.
This might raise a question on why we needed to reach the eve of Mike
Pompeo’s visit to Souda Bay. In any case, you are all familiar with the
parliamentary procedures. I trust that, since these two implementing

arrangements are past this step, we have one more argument to tell the US
Secretary of State (as you know, the Americans attentively follow the norms and
details), i.e. that this has been taken care of.

At practical level, if HN or HAF means immediately need fuels, they can resort to
the closest replenishing unit to refuel on the spot, be it of the US or of another
country. In numerous cases, a refuel had to be done by the US reserve in Souda
Bay, as I already mentioned. The ensuing remaining matters will be arranged
later. I believe that one year given so that any backlog can be arranged proves
–among others- the allied relations; i.e., it proves that among Allies, these
remaining matters can be arranged at a later time. There is no reason for the one
or the other side to try and resolve such things in a spirit of strictness. It is one
more advantage of flexibility as to the way of payment -in kind or in cash-, and,
naturally, the possibility to also refuel other means.

All this is the outcome of the excellent, constantly enhanced strategic relations
between the US and Greece; a relation which is mostly reflected in the US-
Greece Defence Cooperation Agreement, which will be renewed, or rather
amended, in a few days. Every renewal is called an amendment to the
agreement. It is a matter which, supposedly, was negotiated or discussed by the
pertinent ministers. This agreement is a matter of pertinence of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, despite the fact that its largest part refers to defence cooperation
in the field of Defence.

The Americans attaches great importance the strategic significance of Souda
Bay. I believe that the Greek side also attaches the same importance.

Today I had the opportunity to inform the members of the Greek delegation to
NATO’s interparliamentary committee, however some days ago we also
discussed it at the Armaments Committee, and I explained the importance
attributed by the Ministry of National Defence to Souda Bay and the plans for its
upgrade. And, by referring to upgrade plans, I do not mean the US part. The
Americans already use it intensively. I refer to the Greek part, given the fact that,
if the country wants to make its naval presence felt in the Eastern Mediterranean,
then -in the same way it offers opportunities in the Naval Station of Salamis- it

should develop a similar system, an essentially operational naval station in Crete.
And this is achievable by the upgrade of Souda Bay’s installations.

Already, in the planning of the Ministry of National defence, allocations have been
foreseen in the programme announced as Armaments. In essence, it is a long-
term, for fifteen years, programme of gradual and critical upgrade of the Armed
Forces; allocations have also been foreseen for the upgrade of infrastructure and
the fundamental issue of installations’ upgrade in our country concerns Souda
Bay, so that it can become a fully organised and operational naval bay, able
capable of permanently supporting HN units, surface vessels and submarines.

This is our intention, in the context of planning the next day of the Armed Forces,
as the circumstances call. However, this is a case to be developed in time, as
these matters cannot be settled from one month to the other. They need a lot of
time. In any case, a necessary prerequisite is to take the appropriate decision to
this end; you can consider that it has been taken, on the basis of the overall
planning. (…)

I would like to explain one more thing: We have said since the beginning that this
is our intention and planning is needed so as to materialize it. The forthcoming
establishment of a naval bay in Crete is not a matter of a few months. As long as
the decision is taken, it will need some years.

The appropriate decision has been taken after a relative proposal by HNDGS and
the General Staffs – in this case, the HNGS – to the political leadership. The
political leadership accepted it and we proceed by including it to our overall
planning. We explained that to the Armaments Committee last week, during the
briefing. We also discussed it in the course of the discussion concerning the new
structure of the Armed Forces, last week. Time is needed for a result to be
produced, we just say that it exists in our planning, as the circumstances and the
geopolitical conditions require it. The country, and our Navy, need to be present
in the east Mediterranean. In order to do this, we need to upgrade the
infrastructure in Crete. That is all.

Thank you”.