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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Statements by Defence Minister Panos Kammenos after the meeting with the State Secretary of Defence of the UK Michael Fallon

“I am especially pleased to welcome the State Secretary of Defence of the UK, Rt Hon Michael Fallon, to the Ministry of National Defence, with whom we had a very interesting conversation about matters that concern Greece and the UK, both at a national level and in the context of NATO and the European Union, where the two countries are allies and partners.

I welcome, however, in particular a great philhellene, a statesman who never forgets Greece, Philosophy, the values of Greek civilization in his public statements. And I welcome him after sixteen years since the last visit of a UK’s State Secretary of Defence to Greece.

Our meeting takes place at a time characterized by a number of conventional and unconventional challenges for the security of all of us; at a time which requires a collective approach to deal with them, exactly because of their particularity which often passes the narrow geographical points, the national borders and the separate capabilities of countries, even of the most powerful ones in the field of defence.

In this spirit, we discussed about the oncoming important meetings of NATO Defence Ministers and of the Summit of the Alliance in Warsaw, as well as the regional developments in the wider area of Eastern Mediterranean.

In our opinion, NATO’s role should be the one of defence and deterrence against threats, regardless of where they come from on the condition of a persuasive deterrence which is the internal solidarity and the national tolerance of the Alliance.

These can be achieved only through Allies’ respect of International Legitimacy, superiority of dialogue against dangerous and purposeless military controversies and expressed solidarity. The high extent of solidarity and cooperation between the Allies is the one that will determine also the extent of the deterrence capabilities of the Alliance in total.
We, the Allies, while moving on to the future should not forget the fundamental values on which the Alliance was built and, in particular, the first article of the Washington Treaty. Based on it, we all decided to solve any disputes by peaceful means and abstain from threats or from using violence in any manner which does not comply with the provisions of the Chart of the United Nations.

If we want NATO to project a strong moral advantage, we, the Allies, should first of everybody else, embrace the fundamental principles and act in accordance with them. Otherwise, we will undermine the reliability of the Alliance itself.

Speaking of solidarity, I will bring the example of the British contribution to the activity of NATO in the Aegean Sea for the confrontation of human trafficking groups from Turkey to the Greek islands. The UK has assigned naval units to support the NATO forces and I would like to express my warmest thanks to the Secretary, as well as to the crews of the British vessels.

We managed to stop all this flow of refugees and illegal migrants who crossed the sea from the coast of Asia Minor to the Greek islands and later to the West.

Apart from the cooperation at a collective level, we agreed that we need also to upgrade our bilateral cooperation through exchanging views at a strategic level, as well as through synergies at an operational and tactical level.

Exchanging experience, enhancing interoperability through exercises and mutual exchange of staff officers in our multinational headquarters, as well as enhancing our defence infrastructure, especially in the field of exchanging intelligence to deal with terrorism are quite important sectors.

The Secretary’s visit, however, has a special dimension, the one of paying a historic debt. In a few hours, he will travel to Crete with the Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff to pay the due homage to those who gave their lives in the historical battle of Crete, 75 years ago. Greeks and British, Australians and New Zealanders we defended together, not only the territory of the island, yet human values, such as freedom, national sovereignty, respect of human rights and mostly democracy.

Together, back then, we faced totalitarianism, Nazism, intolerance and hostility against our countries, societies, our national identity and traditions. Together we will face again the modern threats against our ideals.

Thank you Michael for your visit and I hope that it will mark an even closer cooperation between Greece and the UK. Besides, history has proven that we are always together at difficult times.