Meeting of the Minister of National Defence Mr Nikos Dendias with the Defence Minister of Cyprus Mr Vasilis Palmas

January 29, 2024

The Minister of National Defence Mr Nikos Dendias met today, Monday 29 January 2024, with the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Cyprus, Vasilis Palmas, who conducted an official visit to Greece.

Other attendants to the meeting were the Chief of HNDGS General Dimitrios Choupis, the General Secretary of the Ministry of National Defence Antonios Ikonomou, the Chief of HAGS Lieutenant General Georgios Kostidis, the Chief of HNGS Vice Admiral Dimitrios–Eleftherios Kataras HN and the Chief of HAFGS Lieutenant General (Pilot) Dimosthenis Grigoriadis.

During the talks, the two Ministers reasserted the strong and everlasting foundations, on which the brotherly relations between Greece and the Republic of Cyprus have been built, and discussed about the bilateral defence cooperation, during a particular international fortuity. They also reasserted the joint pursuit of Greece and the Republic of Cyprus to contribute to the stability and prosperity of the wider region.

The Minister of National Defence also briefed his counterpart on the receipt, by the Hellenic Navy General Staff, of a pertinent letter by the US Navy, regarding the initial acceptance of Greece’s expressed interest on the designing and co-production of up to 7 new frigates, Constellation class, at the Greek shipyards.

Mr Dendias also briefed his counterpart on the “Armed Forces 2030” agenda and invited the Republic of Cyprus to participate in the Greek ecosystem of defence innovation, currently in the stage of establishment.

After the end of the meeting, the Minister of National Defence Mr Nikos Dendias made the following statement:

Dear Minister, dear Vasilis, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to Athens, in your first official trip since you took office and were assigned your significant duties, and I think that we must wish you from the bottom of our hearts, success to the difficult and demanding work you undertook.

The fortuity in the wider region places Greece and Cyprus before highly unsettling developments. We experience instability, war and uncertainty, expanding from Ukraine to the Middle East, the Red Sea and the Sub-Saharan Africa.

In this unstable environment, the joint confrontation of challenges must be, and it actually is, a dominant pursuit of Greece and the Republic of Cyprus. With our close and sincere cooperation we ascertain that our two countries will remain a beacon for peace and stability in the region.

I would like to thank you for the information you provided regarding the latest developments in the Cyprus dispute and to repeat a self-evident fact, that this issue is always the Greek State’s highest priority and especially of the Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ government. That Greece steadily supports the efforts of the Republic of Cyprus for a fair and viable solution to the Cyprus dispute, meaning a solution of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, on the basis of the resolutions of the UN Security Council and of course on the basis of acquis communautaire.

Such a future cannot include occupation troops, no guarantees can exist in such conditions. 50 years have already passed since the Turkish invasion and occupation on Cyprus, for 50 years we have been standing by the side of the Republic of Cyprus, for the fulfilment of the efforts made for the reunification of Cyprus.

I would like at this point to salute the announcement of the UN Secretary General for the appointment of his new Personal Envoy on Cyprus. You told me that she went to Cyprus today and I hope that the meetings with the Turkish-Cypriot side will provide us with some optimism. One way or the other, we remain steadfast and focused by the side of our Cypriot brothers.

I would also like to state, with the certainty given to me by this office in the Armed Forces and the unity of the Greek political forces, that Greece and Cyprus do not “lie” far from each other.

Furthermore, I wish to condemn revisionism, no matter its source, and state that Greece, as the Republic of Cyprus, defends the International Law, the International Law of the Sea, the principles and values of the UN Charter and it fully condemns any use of violence and even the threat of the use of violence. We also absolutely condemn terrorism.

I briefed my dear colleague on our decision to participate in the operations at the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. We will have a more extended talk on this issue during the working lunch which will follow, especially on our participation in the European Union operation for the securing of the free seafaring in the region. Both of our countries have an exceptionally large Merchant Navy and freedom in seafaring constitutes our vital interest.

During the lunch, we will also discuss about the trilateral and multilateral schemes, as we have already discussed. First of all I want to clarify that these schemes are not closed, they are open, anyone can participate if they so wish, but under basic necessary conditions.

What are these conditions? Respect to the International Law, the International Law of the Sea and the UN Charter.

I also had the opportunity to brief the dear Minister for developments in the Greek-Turkish issues and the observed decline regarding violations.

Of course, the way ahead is hard, there is no complacency. We hope to retain tranquillity, we look forward to the establishment of international channels for sincere communication, but under the condition of absolute respect to the principles I presented earlier.

Today, our cooperation and the issues of our cooperation in Defence took up a great part of our meeting. Besides, our meeting is conducted in a very particular fortuity.

Today, the Letter of Acceptance, “LοA” as it is known, was sent here, to the Ministry of National Defence, by the competent US Agency, for the sale of the state-of-the-art F-35 aircraft to Greece.

Previously, the letter of the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Kyriakos Mitsotakis, regarding the participation of our country to the F-35 programme, had been made public.

A letter to the Prime Minister which also pertains to the wider defensive fortification of our homeland, with the grant of various assets. One more step towards the upgrade of the geopolitical role of Greece in the wider region.

In the next months we will have the final draft of the pertinent agreement, because I want to clarify, with regards to the issue of F-35, we are still at the initial stages of the drafting of a procurement agreement.

Consequently, what is said in public discourse regarding the cost etc., is very premature. In a timely manner, solemnly, reliably, we will provide updates when everything has been calculated by our General Staffs and specific tenders have been submitted, as well as proposals on the basis of our specifications, by the US authorities.

As you understand, it is an extremely complex process, a complex negotiation and I think that the Government has proven that it can manage such affairs transparently and effectively.

Furthermore, it has proven that there will always be a solemn and reliable briefing of the political world.

But that is not the end. We are studying our next steps for the Hellenic Armed Forces. I would like to make a particular mention to the Hellenic Navy. We are also studying the intermediate solution of the LCS offered to us gratis by the United States of America, but beyond that I would like to say, for the first time, that we are in talks with the United States of America about the joint design and co-production of the Constellation new generation frigates.

The Hellenic Navy General Staff has already received, on 16 January 2024, a pertinent letter by the US Navy, for the initial acceptance of our interest in the design and co-production of up to 7 Constellation new generation frigates at the Greek shipyards.

Based on this proposal, Greece, if a deal is concluded, could participate in this programme from the very beginning, meaning its design, according to the needs of the Hellenic Navy and this event could constitute a huge leap for the Greek Fleet, as well as for the Greek shipbuilding industry.

It can function as a beacon which could showcase the capabilities of Greece in the production of platforms and systems in the 21st century.

But we won’t stop there either. In a few days we will present to the public discourse, a new bill of law, regarding the enhancement of innovation in the Hellenic Armed Forces and the production of new technology systems.

We can proceed to the Unmanned Vehicles in the air, at the sea and below the sea surface and furthermore proceed to the development of the Greek defence innovation ecosystem.

I also invited Cyprus, on the occasion of the visit of my dear colleague here, to participate in this new ecosystem which aims to the development of domestic systems, low-cost systems but with great capabilities.

We also talked about the expansion of the “Evangelos Florakis” naval base in Mari-Cyprus, so that it will be able to accommodate modern ships like the Belharra frigates of the Hellenic Navy, which we are about to receive.

I briefed my colleague in general, on the “Armed Forces 2030” agenda. An agenda of profound reforms and modernisation of the Hellenic Armed Forces overall, meaning the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.

Of the Army with the reorganisation of the structure of forces, changes in training, changes in military service and reserves, the anti-drone dome, the integration of lessons learned from the wars in Ukraine and Caucasus.

Of the Navy, with what I have already mentioned. Of the Air Force with Rafale, F-35 and the upgraded at Viper level F-16. But of course with the addition of a full change in mentality and doctrine, with the introduction of mobile assets moving autonomously in the air, at the sea, below the sea surface and with the anti-aircraft and anti-drone domes.

Certainly, with the utilisation of our exquisite personnel, but also of the Greek society in general, with the capability to produce innovation in combination with our academic institutions, our research foundations, our start-ups, the defence industry and the research in our military academies.

We believe that all these developments will greatly contribute to the stability in the region, the European perspective and the European security.

Dear Vasilis, I would like to thank you for your visit today, which coincides with a turning point for the Hellenic Armed Forces and the cooperation between Greece and the Republic of Cyprus and I thank you very much for it”.