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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Speech of the Alternate Minister of National Defence Mr. Dimitris Vitsas at the 5th Conference on Defence and Security «EXPOSEC- DEFENSEWORLD»

Speech of the Alternate Minister of National Defence Mr. Dimitris Vitsas at the 5th Conference on Defence and Security  «EXPOSEC- DEFENSEWORLD»
Speech of the Alternate Minister of National Defence Mr. Dimitris Vitsas at the 5th Conference on Defence and Security «EXPOSEC- DEFENSEWORLD»


The Importance of Close Cooperation between State and Defence Industry for a more Successful Extroverted Policy

“Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a particular honour and pleasure for me to be here today among you.

The Invitation of the American - Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, hosting the 5th Conference on Defence and Security, under the aegis of the General Directorate for Defence Armaments and Investments, is at the same time a challenge.

It is a reminder that the case of the country’s productive reconstruction is a complex effort, where the public and private sectors of economy must cooperate and complement each other, with the perception that they fulfill a huge undertaking, a national and patriotic purpose.

It is known that Greece is a country located in a region of particular geopolitical importance and neighbours regions generally characterised by great instability. Nevertheless it constitutes a basic pillar of stability.

Consequently our country is obligated to maintain powerful Armed Forces, in a state of high readiness and furthermore with high availability in weapon systems, requiring a powerful domestic defence industrial and technological infrastructure.

All of the above serve the strategy of deterrence, which is of a great importance for us. It is a strategy of peace while at the same time constituting a factor of stability in a highly unstable region.

The Hellenic Armed Forces fulfill their role of deterrence, being powerful, highly operationally ready, excellently trained and above all else, characterised by high morale.

We face each threat with collectedness, a clear head and strategic spirit. We are in a position to distinguish the depth and the political essence of any threats and take the appropriate measures for their interception, while at the same time we respond in the way we choose.

So our friends and our “friends” are aware and choose if they want to have good neighbours or not. In any case they are mistaken if they doubt our readiness, decisiveness and effectiveness.

Dear Friends,

Today’s meeting takes place one day after the successful completion of the negotiation for the Review of the Greek programme.

This development marks our entry in the final stage of the completion of the programmes of economic tutelage of Greece and its exit from the period of memoranda in terms of unsponsored regularity.

Through the negotiation we reached an agreement. This entails goals and leads to the regulation of debt, so that the economy is not pushed over the limit after the end of the memorandum.

The way is now open and apparent for the country to leave the memoranda behind.

The immediate results include:

- Climate of stability
- Integration to quantitative easing
- Utilisation of development capabilities
- Regulation of debt

At the same time there are four issues which we must not forget:

1. Alleged prosperity through loans is not going to return nor should be desired (it is the policy which created the 320 billion Euros debt).

2. The initial choice (memorandum and IMF) was a mistake. It did not lead to a mild adjustment but to an adjustment through shock, particularly based on the public sector and the pensioners, while at the private sector it led to a great increase of unemployment and the shutting down of hundreds of thousands of businesses.

3. Exit from the period of memoranda cannot lead to new senseless lending, neither does it automatically lead to the decrease of current lending obligations, without regulation.

4. The country’s new course must be supported on two pillars:

- Productive reconstruction
- Redistribution in favour of the weak

These are the measures of development quality and social justice and its results.

The end of the review will mark a series of positive developments in economy, psychologically and actually, with immediate consequences in operational activity and the financial field.

The aim is to lead the country out of the tutelage, having regulated the productive reconstruction, with society still standing, gazing at the future with optimism.

At this point I would like to address a flaw of the past, which at a first glance can be considered a moral issue, though it is not just that. It concerns the necessity to fight corruption. Our government believes that fighting corruption is directly connected to the issue of development and productive reconstruction and we act according to that belief.

It is not just a legal or moral issue but also a deeply political one, connected to the way which the state and economy itself functions.

The defeat of corruption is a political act and furthermore an act of development.

The former system and its subsystems fed corruption and constituted a catalytic factor in the aggravation of the financial crisis in Greece. We fight against it. I cannot assure you that we have solved the problem. We have made progress but more work is needed at the level of structures and we need to shape a social spirit towards that direction.

We do not cry over spilt milk but we fight to change so that the country will enter a developmental trajectory.

The issue raised here is the importance of close cooperation between state, industry, academic and diplomatic community, for a successful extroverted policy. The whole issue constitutes a strong component of the productive reconstruction promoted by us.

Examining the issue from the aspect of national defence strategy, we face two problems:

1.    Securing the backing of Armed Forces’ needs pertaining to the substantial security interest of our country and deal with the maintenance and spare parts of the weapon systems, with their parallel upgrading. We follow that direction, with the rescue and balancing of Hellenic Defence Systems, with the support of the Hellenic Aerospace Industry, with our interventions to the Hellenic Vehicle Industry and the Shipyards, as well as with the development of military factories. At the same time we do not make distinctions between public and private defence industries. We deal with them and support them as an integrated domestic Defence Industry. Securing its viability is a necessary condition.

2.    The expansion of the domestic defence industry to the international markets, with the aim of substantially materialising extroversion, in order to be viable and develop further. This is already under way to a great degree, but more support is needed. We promote international cooperation of Greek companies with foreign ones, in the context of materialising contracts of the Hellenic Ministry of National Defence to cover the needs of the Hellenic Armed Forces and others, since that way we achieve the development of the notion of industrial cooperation of the domestic industries with those abroad, something which offers international opportunities. Industrial participation is no more the desired result but a condition for the signing of a contract. That and the percentage of industrial participation. At the same time through industrial days, but also international exhibitions, substantial opportunities for cooperation arise between domestic defence industries with those abroad, which we support. The Hellenic Ministry of National Defence is open to any company which has such orientation, to facilitate it to commence cooperation with foreign companies. We pave the way for everyone. Furthermore with the G to G agreements we provide further capabilities.

Extroversion is the condition of survival for the defence industry. For that reason we facilitate the establishment of joint ventures between Greek companies to participate in international contests. We support individual but also collective efforts in multiple ways. In missions abroad we encourage the participation of Greek entrepreneurs and we facilitate the participation to international exhibitions and to national stalls. We utilise Defence Attachés and the clerks of financial and commercial cases of our country’s diplomatic mission in concert with the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for the promotion of the military armaments exports. Furthermore we commence the procedures to be able to give certification.  

We know very well that international networking of the domestic defence industry will bring in benefits to the national economy as well as to the National Defence itself. That is why we promote it based on strategic planning.

Reality tells us that in current conditions of technological advancement and competition, the defence industry cannot hold, with the sole project of covering the needs of the Hellenic Armed Forces.

That is the rule for small but also big countries.

In the complex environment of modern weapon systems, where the chains of supply are characterised by technological complexity, world diffusion and a great number of companies, it is not possible for them to secure full autonomy in the field of security supply with the same means.

Consequently Greece, in order to establish / preserve a viable and strong defence industry, moves towards the direction of establishing a new relation between the public and private businesses, domestically and abroad.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I mentioned before we deal with defence industry as a whole, the industry under state control, as well as that belonging to the private sector, along with the shipyards.

At the same time, setting goals with some perspective, we drafted the National Defence Industrial Strategy, already approved by the Governmental Council on Foreign Policy and National Defence, while the Staffs set their priorities and we move to the formation of a Council for Defence Research Technology and Industry, which will consist of representatives of GDDIA, the General Staffs, Association of Hellenic Defence Material Manufacturers, Hellenic Aerospace and Security Defence Industries Group, state defence industries, university professors, a representative of the Ministry of Development and a representative of the General Secretariat for Research and Technology.

The Council for Defence Research Technology and Industry will have the role to coordinate all the engaged bodies aiming to develop the country’s defence research and industry technology and the submission of suggestions for the assumption of further initiatives and actions for the fulfillment of National Defence Industrial Strategy goals.

Our goal is to have a fifteen-year armaments and upgrade of existing weapon systems programme and at the same time a particular short-term, three-year programme which will specify the immediate goals.

The Hellenic Ministry of National Defence especially promotes the following actions and activities:

1.    Establishment and realisation of the National Defence Industry’s Strategy in a timeframe of several years, aiming to achieve a viable domestic defence industry.

2.    Efforts for a gradual transformation of the domestic industry, to be able to respond with competitive and qualitative terms to the requirements of the armed forces and especially at the strategic sectors which have been prioritised, to strengthen its presence at the international market and orientate itself productively and successfully to technologies / products military and non military, as well as those of dual purpose.

3.    Preservation of an unbreakable cooperation with the domestic defence industries, in the context of arising needs from the preparation of the defence material supplies programme.

4.    Evaluation of proposals for research programmes concerning their necessity – point for conduct and prioritisation in the context of fulfilling operational needs.

5.    Briefing through institutionalised procedures, which are characterised by rules of transparency, of all the bodies of the domestic defence industry for the requirements of armament programmes of the Hellenic Ministry of National Defence.

6.    Scheduling and updating of the function of the electronic platform at the level of the Ministry of National Defence, through which the representatives of defence industry will be able to be brought up to date for all the contest procedures in development by the Ministry.

7.    Conduct of every possible effort so that during the conclusion of intergovernmental agreements for the supply of defence material, sub-manufacturing projects will be assigned to the domestic defence industries (public and private).

8.    Utilisation of the stipulations of article 346 of the EU Treaty, in order to achieve the largest possible participation of domestic industry, in the assignment of contracts for defence material regarding reasons of protection of substantial security interests of our country.

Based on this planning, the domestic defence industries will be able to adjust their planning and expectations, concerning the part which they will claim from the Hellenic Armed Forces.

Another important pursuit is the realisation of the necessary interventions in the law concerning procurements (3978/2011), which has created numerous problems.

Our aim is to put the problems on the table through the parliamentary procedure and allow for the contribution of creative proposals and ideas, for the enhancement of speed, transparency, flexibility, effectiveness and productivity of the Armed Forces procurements system.

We believe in the regulatory role of the state in the function of private economy. In this context we move towards the drafting of a Registry for the Defence Sector Businesses of the domestic defence industry, in order to enhance reliability through the certification of actual defence material manufacturers.

Dear friends,

I would like to stress, with the opportunity of my presence here today, the particular importance of further development and strengthening of the Hellenic - American relations in the field of defence industry.

We have a longstanding cooperation with the USA, which is currently characterised by close cooperation and great creativity.

Currently we have in development or we are in discussions for an immediate materialisation of very important projects, like upgrading the aircrafts of naval cooperation, upgrading fighter aircrafts, acquiring and upgrading helicopters and cooperating in various levels.

These types of cooperation are of a strategic nature and entail great prospects for the coverage of the wider region with Greece at the epicentre.

Activities like industrial days, the seminars in Athens and Thessaloniki for the facilitation of the USA’s activation, the technical know-how already acquired due to the current cooperation of Greek businesses with the US Government, demonstrate that there is an open field ahead of us with great prospects throughout the levels of defence industries activity.

The American – Hellenic Chamber of Commerce is a constant patron of our efforts. Its valuable help expands from moral to practical support of our common cooperative effort.

I would like to thank the President and the Board of Directors not only for their help but also for their active participation.

I wish that this conference will contribute to the prominence and development of cooperation between the state and the Defence Industry. I am sure that the statements and interventions will further open the horizons of cooperation and extroversion. We the State, support such initiatives and we contribute to the strengthening of every developmental initiative.

Thank you very much!”