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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Speech of the Minister of National Defence at the Conference of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece

Speech of the Minister of National Defence at the Conference of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece
Speech of the Minister of National Defence at the Conference of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece
Speech of the Minister of National Defence at the Conference of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece
Speech of the Minister of National Defence at the Conference of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece
Speech of the Minister of National Defence at the Conference of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece
Speech of the Minister of National Defence at the Conference of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece
Speech of the Minister of National Defence at the Conference of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece
Speech of the Minister of National Defence at the Conference of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece

“Our defence industry can constitute a production centre for the whole world. For the countries with which we have a particular relationship, like our allied countries, meaning the member – states of the European Union and NATO, but also for the third countries, this means that Greece can constitute a gateway to large markets. Right now, geopolitically speaking, apart from the close cooperation with the countries of the European Union and NATO, Greece is shaping bilateral relations, particularly in the fields of defence and foreign policy, an arch of stability, which will contribute to the shaping of a peaceful future in the wider region.

Greece moves towards the North with countries like Bulgaria and Romania – European Union and NATO member - states – and to the South with Cyprus, Israel – with which we have concluded a special defence agreement, similar only to the agreement with the United States of America – but also with moderate countries, like Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. These are very strong defence agreements, which also expand to the defence industry. This means that Greece can become these countries’ gateway to the European Union and NATO and at the same time a gateway for the countries of the European Union and NATO, and of course Greece, to these countries.

Up till now, during the last two years we traveled to third countries, like Jordan, United Arab Emirates, India and Indonesia. Many Greek companies have signed agreements and began big projects, in the field of creating industry branches in these countries and at the same time very important contracts, which will help the Greek defence industry and its expansion.

I would like to assure you that all these companies will have the support of the Hellenic Armed Forces, without any inhibition. Our job, along with the defence of our national sovereignty and territorial integrity, is also to defend the financial interests of the Greek private and public companies.

We are here today so that you can converse with each other and examine synergies which we can conclude together. Because the defence industry is not the only branch which produces weapons. There are companies who can work with the defence industry through agreed synergies, in order to expand other companies’ activities, particularly of industries and crafts, which will act as subcontractors of big projects in the field of defence industry.

The promotion and enhancement of the Greek defence industry is our priority and it is essential that this cooperation will help with the proliferation of scientific and technological developments to the rest of the economy. The development of technology can be combined – and that is our aim – with the scientific centres of Greece, with our universities and researchers.

With the appropriate support by the Ministry of National Defence, the Greek defence industry companies can now take particular initiatives for development, which will attract not only international interest, but will also make their participation more active in the supplies of the Armed Forces of Greece and the allied and friendly states.

Greece has the greatest benefit a country can have. We are the only country in the European Union who conducts talks simultaneously with Israel and the Arab countries. We can talk with the European Union, the United States of America, ΝΑΤΟ, but also with Russia. We are that country which has armaments coming from the West but also from the East and businesswise we are at a particularly interesting phase, during which many countries with materials coming from the east now turn towards the West, but also countries with materials from the east try to combine them with western materials.

Although we are going through a hard period financially, we sincerely believe that we stand on a great opportunity, which is created by our powerful will to work closely in order to develop a healthy and competitive defence industrial sector.

The time has come to comprehend the brewing changes and overcome any existing institutional and business difficulties, in order to schedule our actions further and commence a new age of strategy between the political support and the defence industry.

The lasting trend of increase of the technological complexity of defence armaments, continues to shape the defence markets which will continue to play a critical role in the wider European economy, to pioneer, to conduct cutting-edge research, to provide development and work positions of high qualifications, without being affected by the levels of budgets. Our aim is to make the supplies as Greek as possible, by increasing the participation of domestic companies.

That is the exact reason for which we need a powerful and competitive defence industry, as a basic factor of European Strategy for viable development without exclusions.

The Ministry of National Defence has already taken a series of initiatives and conducted contacts for the support of the Domestic Defence Industry for the participation of Greek companies in the supplies of the Armed Forces but also in international supplies.

A recent example is the briefing of the special standing committee on armaments programmes and contracts of the Greek Parliament for the publication of the National Defence Industrial Strategy, which was presented and coordinated with the bodies of the domestic defence industry as well as research bodies. This briefing is at your disposal.

This National Defence Industrial Strategy can be expanded – which is our aim – throughout the other companies which do not exclusively operate in defence, but which can assist in defence industry through subcontractor projects.

The National Defence Industrial Strategy, an institutional document which should have been published in 2011, will constitute the base for the planning of the national policy in the field of defence technology and industry. Its aim is to preserve and enhance the national defence technological - industrial base in particular strategic sectors of defence and security. The time has come to secure the rapid and unhindered function of the Armed Forces’ chain of supply.

In its stipulations it is analytically and clearly described how to conduct the materialisation procedure of supplies which fall under the protection of the essential security interests of our country.

Furthermore, in the intergovernmental agreements which are concluded for the supply or upgrade of defence armaments, we strive to assign the projects to the domestic defence industry.

Also we must not forget that in the modern financial environment, the development of cooperation and networking between domestic companies are required. Through this cooperation and networking, the domestic production units have the capability to achieve better results and decrease the risk and the uncertainty which characterises modern competition.

Furthermore we faithfully serve transparency and legality and one of our main objectives is the unhindered and prompt fulfillment of contractual obligations arising from the materialisation of armament programmes.

The Ministry of National Defence has shouldered during the last years a great part of the management of the refugee crisis. This means that capabilities to handle this need which has arisen from the refugee problem are being developed. At this point we must try to create synergies between the Greek companies, not only to accommodate the refugees but also the immigrants living currently in Greece. These people are passing by, today they are here but tomorrow we hope – and we will do everything in our power towards that goal – that they will return to their countries. The reconstruction of those countries which will be called to take the refugees back is essential.

It is certain that after the recent political developments in the United States we will witness the cooperation of forces, like USA with Russia, a cooperation which I believe will help the resolution of the crisis in Syria. This means that Syria, which has been destroyed by the war created by the jihadists of ISIS, will ask for the help of friends and allied countries for its reconstruction. Greece will play a major role in this reconstruction. If we are ready and if you cooperate and prepare, a big part of Syria’s reconstruction may be in our hands.

In this effort the Ministry of National Defence will be present, in order to help you, to plan the needs which will arise either in construction companies or in companies of defence material, or in catering companies. We plan ahead for these days and that is why we have a close cooperation with our diplomatic authorities, which have received particular orders from the government to serve the Greek entrepreneurial needs.

I think that the problems caused these last years because of the financial crisis, have mainly to do with excessive taxes, an issue which many Greek companies cannot deal with. Coming from an entrepreneurial family myself I know that many companies could not persevere, many companies went out of business and many people lost their jobs. However development is on the way and it will give us the capability to essentially intervene at this sector too. The increase of the GDP and the bolstering of financial sectors will help the Greek economy to go where we expect it to. The decrease of taxes and the creation of motives.

However there are motives through the defence industry. The Ministry of National Defence apart from the activity in the field of armaments and defence diplomacy, has also undertaken the biggest part of utilisation of the real estate at the Armed Forces’ disposal.

When I took office I asked to see the data for the Funds’ assets. I discovered that the Funds of the Hellenic Armed Forces have an estate of 34 billion Euros. 34 billion Euros, which contribute 1.100.000 Euros to the Hellenic Armed Forces and our budget. Entire islands, old camps, airfields, areas in magnificent destinations which were never utilised. That is why three months ago we voted on a law which gives us the capability to utilise the estate of the Ministry of National Defence.

This estate was used in the past as part of each minister’s policy with regards to the mayors. The ministers would cede camps to the mayors, the mayors would vote for the ministers or their parties and all this process burdened the Greek people’s estate, but also the Funds of the Ministry of National Defence.

So we voted on a law which gives the capability to every asset belonging to the Armed Forces Funds to be ceded for utilisation for 100 years with a minimum lease of 5% of its real value per year. This is established through an electronic competition with the well-known “e – bid” which functions throughout the world but not in Greece, up till now. Within 15 days of public consultation and seven hours of contest the lease of the particular supported location will be established. This point presents an entrepreneurial interest for fast track which can be secured with the construction of basic projects and the authorisations on behalf of the Army Engineer Corps, meaning the old Joint Groups of Reconstruction Machinery, currently known as Studies and Constructions Unit.

This means that we can rapidly turn formerly abandoned areas to places of touristic interest. One suggestion currently on the table is to make the Nea Kavala airport, near Salonika, a cargo airport, constituting a gateway to and from the countries of the East. In the summer it will be a point of entry for tourists facilitated in customs by Greece based on bilateral agreements, with Russia for example, but also during the winter it will be an airport used for product exports especially from northern Greece.

Entire camps nearby can be given for public interest and others can be used for business activities or for theme parks. We stand on a place which produces culture, near Mount Athos, a place of religious tourism and historic monuments. I want to invite you to all these places so we can talk and examine our capabilities for their utilisation in the best possible way.

The same stands for local business in relation to the Armed Forces. The orders given stipulate that the Units of the Armed Forces must contact local companies for their supplies, always in the context of the financial offer which must be cost-effective when compared to the prices from other areas. This means that we have the capability to cooperate and the Armed Forces can be a focal point for the promotion of all these products.

Finally on the issue of personnel. The Armed Forces personnel is divided as you know to two great categories, the commissioned cadres, the officers, NCOs, professional soldiers, the women and men of the Armed Forces serving our country professionally, but also the conscripts. These conscripts are our children and tomorrow they will be your executives. I want us to have a dialogue here on this floor. These children which serve for 9, 12 or 15 months, depending on the Arm they serve under, must have the capability during their military service to enjoy a training which will help them later in their professional efforts.

We are in the final stages of signing a deal with Microsoft which will give to the conscripts the capability to get a certificate of professional proficiency in computers. The new recruits who had no training up till now on this sector or our cadres will have the opportunity to earn specialisation.

The professional proficiency of conscripts in specialisations useful for their future will expand to others sector too. Heavy machinery operators, young kids who have studied engineering and architects will have the opportunity to work at the Studies and Constructions Unit. Technologists, electricians and others will be able after their service to have a professional certification in order to work in the future.

In this issue we require the assistance of the private sector. We wish to cooperate with the companies and through the service of these young children to prepare the executives of tomorrow. This will bring the Greek people and entrepreneurship even closer.

I would like to assure you that when we commenced this effort, especially with state industries and the liaisons of defence materials, throughout the world and especially in third countries, we never expected to see results so quickly. In truth the results were amazing. The possible synergies can open new horizons for all the operations and not only in the field of defence industry.

With regards to the Hellenic Vehicle Industry, of particular interest to Salonika, I would like to tell you that we are making a great effort. As you know the Hellenic Vehicle Industry is currently going under liquidation. The Hellenic Vehicle Industry must not go out of business. It must be a heavy defence industry which will cooperate with other companies to become the focal point for the development of northern Greece. We have already contacted several companies abroad which are interested in entering the Greek market, mainly to certify through the EU and NATO the products they produce in other areas.  We hope that we will have positive developments concerning the Hellenic Vehicle Industry.

However no development is possible without your participation. Because development in these industries may drag along hundreds of companies with which we will be able to move forward through synergies. The same stands for the Hellenic Defence Systems and the Hellenic Aerospace Industry, where we can also look for synergies, with these companies approaching you or you approaching them. The time has come for us to produce Greek defence material once more. We were the first who promoted to the international defence market products which still constitute paragons. But due to the financial crisis and the country’s deindustrialisation we had to back down. The time has come to move forward.

I want to assure you that the Ministry of National Defence and the Armed Forces will be by your side. We can work together for the well-being of our country and our children.

I would like to thank the Deputy Minister of Macedonia - Thrace here with us today and to assure you that the Hellenic Armed Forces respect your work and we ask you to join us to move forward in order to build a new future for our country.

Thank you very much”.