On Tuesday, 16 November 2021, the Minister of National Defence, Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, concluded his participation in the EU Foreign Affairs Council (Defence) that took place in Brussels.
In particular, Mr. Panagiotopoulos attended on the afternoon of Monday, 15 November 2021, a joint working dinner of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence of the EU Member States, during which they exchanged views on the first draft of the EU “Strategic Compass”.
On Tuesday, the Minister attended the works of the European Defence Agency (EDA) Steering Board, During which the Agency’s contribution to the promotion of innovation in European Defence was discussed. Furthermore, he attended the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) (Defence), during which they discussed recent developments in operation “EUFOR ALTHEA”, Military Mobility, the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), and the EU Training Missions. He also attended a working lunch, which was also attended by the NATO General Secretary, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, where EU – NATO cooperation was discussed.
In his address, the Minister of National Defence, Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, referred to the final phase of the instrumentalisation of migration flows by air to Europe, faced by Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia on the land border with Belarus, similar to that faced by Greece on its land border with Turkey in March 2020. He stressed that these actions, which constitute violations of EU borders, are unacceptable and promote geopolitical aspirations and financial interests of those staging them. The effective countering of these must be a top priority for the EU and an expression of solidarity to its Member States.
Concerning the Coordinated Maritime Presence (CMP), he stressed that the East Mediterranean, as a Maritime Area of Interest (MAI) in the immediate neighbourhood where there are major interests for Member States at stake and challenges and threats to security and stability, must be a strategic priority for the EU.
In the meeting with the NATO General Secretary, Mr. Stoltenberg, he stressed that productive cooperation between the EU and NATO is necessary, based on the principles of inclusion, transparency, reciprocity, and respect of the autonomy of the two Organisations.
Within the framework of the Council, a series of PESCO Programmes was approves, including the Greece-coordinated Programme “Main Battle Tank – Simulation and Testing Centre”.
In the margins of the Council, the Minister presided over the Informal Meeting of European People’s Party (EPP) Defence Ministers and had side meetings with the Minister of the Armed Forces of France, Ms. Florence Parly, and the Minister of Defence of Bulgaria, Mr. Georgi Velikov Panayotov, with whom he discussed matters of mutual interest.