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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Defence Minister Panos Kammenos' speech in EXPOSEC 2017

Defence Minister Panos Kammenos' speech in EXPOSEC 2017
Defence Minister Panos Kammenos' speech in EXPOSEC 2017
Defence Minister Panos Kammenos' speech in EXPOSEC 2017
Defence Minister Panos Kammenos' speech in EXPOSEC 2017

“I thank you warmly for your kind invitation to participate this year toο in EXPOSEC 2017, a Conference that always enriches our knowledge and our policies with its conclusions whereas it offers, among other things, a significant chance for the creation of a framework of contact and information about the latest developments in the field of defence and security.
 
The extended crisis in the Middle East, turmoil in African countries, riots in our neighbouring countries, the war in Syria, the situation in Libya have formed a particularly dangerous and unstable political environment in the proximity of our country.

In parallel, the geopolitical developments in the Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, as well as ethnic and religious conflicts in our neighbourhood, create adverse circumstances not only for our region but for entire Europe as well. These facts go beyond states constituting a general threat and they require a collective, regional, European and international solution.

At this point, I would like to stress the strategic value of Greece for this geographic area, which is defined, on the one hand, by its key position in the said area of high interest and, on the other hand, by the fact that our country is a point of contact and a stronghold of Europe that connects it to the Asian and African continents. Greece’s particular burden is further enhanced by the fact that it is the only country of this area which participates in all international and regional security organizations, such as UN, NATO, European Union and OSCE, actively in a full membership status. Greece has never stopped being a part of the so called east of the west.

Because of this geostrategic position, our country is obliged to deal with threats of inter-ethnic character caused mostly by the quite increasing tendencies of illegal migration and international crime, the maintenance and reinforcement of extreme tendencies like the ones of extreme nationalism, irredentism and uncontrollable proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


Nowadays, we see blind terrorist attacks happening. I refer mostly to the continuous activity of terrorists within the European territory. We have recent memories of the terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Sweden and Russia, fundamentalist groups against common global values and democratic standards.

In such a volatile and fragile security environment, our country ought to develop and apply the necessary policies which will allow it to maintain peace, stability and prosperity of the Greek people and contribute to the security of euro-atlantic space over the next years. Besides, we owe this to the sacrifices of the past generations that have allowed us live peacefully for more than seven decades.

The wider area of Southeastern Mediterranean which is undoubtedly a space of our interest and perhaps the top geostrategic and geo-economic intersection worldwide, since it is there that significant energy routes and international trade routes cross each other. At this point, I would like to say that we are very close to a deal with the United States of America, as well as with countries of our wider region, via Cyprus, to Israel and Egypt for the creation of new routes and new manners of energy transport, with Greece assuming the role of an intersection. This will also have financial results which will be much more important than the negotiation itself and the second assessment of the economy.

The expansion of uprisings and conflicts can contribute to the destabilization of global economy, the re-emergence of threats against global peace, stability and security and contribute to the increase of migration flows.

What follows the so-called “Arab Spring” has proved that political and social changes in the Arab World and Muslim societies cannot be faced in the same terms and standards as the ones of western political organization and thought. On the contrary, changes require respect of the social and cultural particular features of every people and a long commitment of the international community to provide support, otherwise they cannot succeed.

As we all know, based on the pragmatic approach, gaining power in an anarchical environment is a top priority of states to increase their force in the competitive environment of international relations. Thus, this race for the gain of power has created a conflict of interests among the states that constitute the wider region of Southeastern Mediterranean, as well as a conflict of interests among states of the global community, in this area. This situation has given the chance for the creation of new, more radical, fields of religious and ethnic fundamentalism which, on the one hand, threaten a big part of the Middle East with disorganization and collapse and, on the other hand, they put the security of global community at risk.

It is not a coincidence that we see funds being directed towards organizations in the Balkans which try to spread fundamentalism in our neighbourhood. It is particularly important to send a clear message that the immediate reaction of global community is required for the organization of such fundamentalist groups to stop in the area of the Balkans. Greece is ready to participate in such kind of initiatives. It is time for us to stop the expansion and funding of a Muslim axis which is not based on the real religion of Islam, yet on the intention of some people to reinforce fundamentalism and terrorism.

Undoubtedly, Greece has been influenced by the volatility that prevails in the area of Southeastern Mediterranean since it is particularly exposed mostly to refugee and migrant flows which are caused by the generalized instability in the area. At the same time, the particular features of this space that is surrounded by long sea borders facilitates the conduct of illegal activities which can potentially threaten the country. On the other hand, closing borders which was applied by some European countries to face the refugee flows has worsened the situation.  

Our country is the stronghold of Europe to the area of Southeastern Mediterranean and attempts to play a key stabilizing role in the current geopolitical developments. Our main goal in this effort is to secure vital, national, European and Euro-Atlantic interests in the single geographic space of this area, in a strategic cooperation with Cyprus Republic, Egypt, Israel and the rest of our regional and international partners.


Greece does not play a secondary role anymore, but, after many years, it is – slowly but steadily – recovering a key role in the creation of a big axis of stability against any sort of threat. In this spectrum, upgrading the role of Souda, expanding the agreement with the united States of America and the close cooperation with the United States of America which we consider exceptionally important, undertaking bilateral and multilateral initiatives in the wider area of the Mediterranean, in particular after signing the agreements with Israel and Egypt, as well as enhancing the cooperation with Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, make Greece a factor of stability in the wider area of the Mediterranean and point out its geostrategic position.

None should also forget the role of Greece and the wider area of Southeastern Mediterranean in energy security and as an alternative of energy supply of the European Union as a top priority target. The natural gas deposits which have been found in Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and Greece change the geopolitical data in the area of Southeastern Mediterranean Sea.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The developments lead again to a new confirmation of the permanent Greek stance, that modern threats demand that we focus mainly on deterrence because only through cooperation among societies, states, organizations, experts, we can achieve progress and establish conditions of security, development, prosperity and progress.

The Security Council of the United Nations should continue playing a key role so that the actions of the Global Community will belong to a wider and organized system of international security and comply with International Law and, most importantly, they should not be competitive. We count on the cooperation of the United States of America with Russia, as well as with the European Union.

At the same time and in addition, an excellent cooperation among states in matters of security and intelligence is required to deal with any threat against global peace and security effectively; the institutional and organizational reinforcement of security mechanisms is required too. Only through political cooperation, synergies among security and information services and common actions of states and international organizations we can deal with current challenges, such as terrorism, effectively.

We must give up on the narrow-minded decisions made so far within the framework of the European Union, not to use new technologies in dealing with terrorism. It is impossible to deal with terrorism without the use of biometric data which should be included immediately in the information exchange mechanism.

It is unacceptable to continue using systems which have become obsolete, such as Eurodac, by which we try to identify suspects through the method of fingerprints, who cannot be identified, unless they have already been arrested and detained for more than eighteen hours and identified which is not provided for under European law.

A great challenge for international community is the development of those mechanisms which will help tackle terrorism, restrict proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and control the flows of funding which support terrorism, such as illegal oil trade and trafficking of persons and weapons. The close cooperation with states as well as international organizations, such as NATO, European Union and UN, is the most advisable solution to deal with these threats. Our country encourages the development of initiatives related to the development of synergic schemes to achieve security and stability at an international and regional level.

It is important to control the sea area between Crete, Cyprus, Suez and Malta where the biggest part of oil, drugs, weapons and human trafficking takes place and funds terrorism and, in general, the attacks in Europe.

Additionally, Greece participates in international peace support operations and security operations, following relevant decisions of the Security Council of the UN. It supports the transformation of NATO (Organisation of Collective Security and Defence). It reinforces the development of Common European Defence and Security Policy, CSDSP, on the condition, of course, that Europe will decide to defend its borders; because none can speak of European defence when Europe itself cannot decide to defend its common borders.

We reinforce processes for the creation of a Permanent Structured Cooperation providing for a closer and enhanced cooperation among European Union member-states on Security and Defence issues.

Developing defence capabilities to face existent and emerging challenges, as well as to fill the gaps, is an important parameter which the states, as well as international organizations should take into consideration in their effort to establish regional security and stability. In this context, NATO invests in improving interoperability between Allies and Partners and encourages the promotion of scale synergies for the common development of high cost capabilities, as well as in cooperation with issues of Defence and Security with the European Union and other organizations.

There is no doubt that the international community has proved that it can face common threats by developing new capabilities and by cooperating harmoniously. This has become clear from the international cooperation for combating piracy and protecting free navigation in the area off the coast of Somalia, as well as from the deployment of SNMG2 (Standing NATO Maritime Group – 2) operation in the area of the Aegean Sea, in the framework of combating the network of traffickers, or the operation SOPHIA of the European Union in Central Mediterranean.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In our time it seems that the limits of global and domestic security are indiscernible. Modern threats, such as hybrid threats and threats in the cyberspace, surpass the standard methods of management of domestic security services and they develop features of a global interest threat. Cyber attacks are an example of this, since they pose a real threat to national integrity and prosperity of every country. Economy, trade, government and military intelligence, communication systems and crucial infrastructure are some of the sectors which can be put in danger because of attacks in the cyberspace.

In addition, it is worth stressing that technology and internet access has helped terrorists develop know-how in manufacturing and using weapons of mass destruction, recruiting new members as well as spread propaganda. Uncontrollable trade and extension of technologies of development and creation of modern weapon systems of conventional and asymmetric nature is one of the most powerful factors of destabilization at an international level.

This changes also the priorities we set for our armament. There is a text that has been posted online and shows that with a 500-euro drone, biological or chemical weapons can be used which can neutralize a whole city within a range of two miles.
As government, we apply a dynamic and always nonbelligerent defence policy, but we consider defending our sovereignty rights of the Greek nation nonnegotiable. In this spirit, our country, despite the financial-economic conditions, maintains the Armed Forces battle-worthy and at a high operational level.     
Maintaining the battle-worthiness of the Armed Forces was and is a top priority in order to deal with any threat effectively, since, as I have said many times and our Armed Forces have proven actively, we are determined to not allow any dispute of our sovereignty rights of our country, particularly nowadays when the provocativeness of the neighboring country has surpassed all limits.
In the Armed Forces, financial crisis has been seen as a chance; by seeking smart and functional solutions to achieve an uncompromised final objective which is nothing else than ensuring a safe environment for Greek citizens which is a prerequisite for the financial growth and prosperity of our people and country.
In this context, our Armed Forces sought:
To achieve the best possible utilization of the skills of manpower. We will already start to apply a new structure in the Armed Forces next summer.

To reduce the operational cost through jointness which creates also synergies and scale economies.

To re-evaluate the armament requirements with a priority of the full utilization of the existent assets and the increase of the availability of the main weapon systems.

To focus on the main threats against the country.

To improve the existent infrastructure for the quick transfer of forces.

To utilize the existent transport assets (land, sea, air assets) for the rapid deployment of forces on the places according to planning.

To transform the Armed Forces into a modern, effective, financial and agile tool in the hand of our state which will guarantee the defence of our country and help Greek people with its social contribution.
We have utilized as much as possible the offers of the United States of America for the purchase of assets which will help us support our country’s national defence over the next years.

At this point, I would like to stress the fact that our country managed to achieve the goal of 2% of the GDP for its defence expenses for which it had committed itself to NATO. In this context, during the last meeting of NATO ministers we pointed out the contradiction which emerged about Greece when, on one hand, it is asked to fulfill its obligations towards NATO and, on the other hand, the institutions insist on cuts of defence expenses in the framework of a hard financial austerity. The Ministry of National Defence has stressed this fact, as well the issue of finding a solution within the general framework of European Union and NATO, during the ministerial meetings and have gained the support of the heads of the two organizations.

I would also like to stress the fact that developments as far as threats are concerned, force the Armed Forces and the states themselves, to change their approach in order to respond to the asymmetric character of threats. To this direction, it has been proved that the Armed Forces, while trying to respond to the operational requirements of modern conflicts, at the same time they assume also new roles, such as the contribution to humanitarian purposes, contribution to the management of the refugee issue, as well as to combat terrorism.

I remind you, as I had also proposed last year from this floor, that, in the framework of the adaptation of our country’s reaction mechanisms to the multifaceted and multileveled global threats, a Council of National Security should be established with the consent opinion of the Parliament, which will operate in the same manner as in other developed countries. At an era when geopolitic balances and threats change, I would not be able overlook the sector of defence industry which is exceptionally significant for the defence and security of our country.

In this context, our country, for the first time, drafted a text of National Defence Industry Strategy, paying great attention to its right to protect its essential security interests. This strategy aims at a harmonious cooperation of our country’s Armed Forces with the defence industry sector, to achieve the improvement of industrial capabilities which are expected to create favourable conditions for the satisfaction of future defence needs of our country.
 
The order that I have given and the Chief of HNDGS and the Chiefs of Staffs have received, to all the Defence Attaches is to reinforce Greek entrepreneurship; to help synergies in all Greek enterprises whether they are state-owned or private, and I believe that the results of the second semester have justified this policy. It is now time, however, for our Defence Industry to be modernized and respond immediately to the needs of the Hellenic Armed Forces, as well as to those synergies. As part of this, we will also ask for the reinforcement and experience of the Greek Defence Industries.
At the same time, this whole effort is expected to support the exports of the domestic defence industry, to reinforce the competitiveness, to promote the creation of joint ventures and synergies and to contribute to financial growth.

Taking the above into consideration, I declare the opening of the 5th Annual Conference on Defence and Security “EXPOSEC – DEFENCE WORLD” and I am sure that the proposals of our notable speakers will result in fruitful conclusions for the further creative cooperation of all of us in order to ensure peace and security.

Finally, I would like to urge you to discuss again the possibility of reestablishing Defendory in Athens over the next years.

Thank you very much.”