Greek-Turkish Relations
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Dendias: The Turks are challenging us after the Three Miles by trying to create an issue of islands

In a comprehensive interview, the Minister of National Defense Nikos Dendias on the vidcast-podcast and the journalist Makis Provatas spoke about the Armed Forces, the "ASPIDES" operation in the Red Sea, and whether he should at some point to have only a professional army in Greece, but also for the last challenge of the Turks against the Kalymnian fishermen in Imia

On whether in times to come the Armed Forces will continue to be extremely useful to the country


"The Armed Forces will be useful anyway because the challenges are no longer just the war-peace dichotomy. It's a complex world and the Armed Forces need to be able to support society on a number of things. An example is natural disasters. I don't want to be exaggerated, but if the Armed Forces were not present in the natural disasters of Thessaly things would have been worse. We are preparing a whole mechanism, with which the Armed Forces can coordinate, trained, with a series of units, to support the Civil Protection of the country. In other words, to support Greek society".

The defense doctrine

"We have a basic doctrine: deterrence. Our disposition is to defend our national security, our independence, our territorial sovereignty. This is the way we see things. The first basic mission is defense against our neighbors. Let's not say it in the singular, in order to have a more general view, that is, to be able to defend our borders, our sovereignty and our sovereign rights, which are disputed by our neighbor Turkey in principle.

From then on, however, we live in a period in which cosmogonic changes are taking place. In our north we have war after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in our south, southeast, we have war in Gaza, all of sub-Saharan Africa is almost in a state of explosion. The Red Sea, the Indian Ocean have become dangerous areas again, everywhere you turn there are hot spots or potential hot spots of tension and danger. In this context, the country must have the capabilities that the times require. We cannot fall short of our needs."

For the "ASPIDES" operation in the Red Sea

"A debate was created about this, 'why should we interfere, why should we as a member state of the European Union interfere in an operation organized by the European Union?' There are many answers, all very valid. Firstly, because the Red Sea is a lung from which the Greek economy breathes.The fact that too many products are currently making the rounds of Africa ultimately ends up, however unobviously, in the pocket of the Greek consumer. Every container that goes around Africa is burdened with four to five times the cost of transportation. But let's also look at our ports. We want to be a hub, logistics, transportation. Piraeus is 30%-40% down in its movement. If Suez doesn't work, our ports don't work. Whatever advantages we have from our geographical position are largely nullified.

You also said the third, these steamships that "plow" the oceans are largely Greek-owned. We have the largest fleet at sea and we will leave it unprotected? We are trying to encourage the European Union to create a defense arm and create a culture of defense operations.So we who have every interest and every logic and make this effort, are we the ones who will not participate? It is the largest operation ever organized by the European Union. In the first phase a fleet of four frigates, with support ships, to which will be added other ships with a large participation of various countries with personnel. I think it is extremely important for this business to succeed, primarily for us Greeks."

The need for a new culture in the military in this "new world"

"It is necessary, it is a condition of survival. We have created what we call "Agenda 2020-2030". It needs time to be done and we believe that in the fourth decade of the 21st century it will become absolutely necessary for the Greek Armed Forces to have reached the level of their time. We need a different structure and different weapon systems to defend that structure.We have learned to think in terms of big platforms, modern airplanes, big steamships. The Greek Armed Forces must become something different. They have reliably served the country for 200 years now, they too must move into the new era and this is necessary Mr. Provatas, it is not a political choice...

Let's face it, Turkey at the end of the last century, didn't have any drones. Or if it had it was in an experimental stage. At this moment it can line up endless swarms, and production and development possibilities. It did not have the shipbuilding program it has today. It did not build helicopter carriers. It did not claim hegemony in the Eastern Mediterranean. Because, what else do helicopter carriers signal? What else does the Turkish-Libyan memorandum signify? What will Greece do against them? Will she remain a mere observer and make her cross?"

For the time when Greece will be able to mass manufacture drones and weapon systems

“I'm not going to go into a calendar commitment that I couldn't do. I want to be honest with you, we are very far behind. The Hellenic Aviation Industry which used to be a very important business of state interests, instead of helping the country's effort was consuming money and all the transport planes of the Hellenic Air Force are there waiting to be repaired.Are there things being done right? Of course. The upgrade of F-16s to Vipers. It's a little late but it's progressing, but it needs a new effort to get to the point you said before. When can it produce? We're not there yet. The country within the time frame that I have determined, these six years, will reach a level that can adequately face the challenges that we expect to be created.

"On whether we should at some point have a professional only army in Greece

“I have a value option. I believe in the citizen army and I think that Greek society to a large extent perceives the Armed Forces as a product coming from its bowels. But this does not mean that there should be no professional organization.One thing is that I rely on a professional corps and another thing is that I have only one professional army, as other countries have chosen. We rely on the participation of every Greek citizen in the sacred obligation of the defense of his country. The point is: Can we have a useful term that turns into an opportunity for the soldier and an opportunity for the Armed Forces? Which, on a voluntary basis, transfers the hoplite at regular intervals so that the Greek army can have the critical mass it needs".

On whether Greece is on the right side of history

"I think yes. And the basic choices were supported by society. The issue for the country has to do, first of all, as you mentioned, very politely I have to acknowledge, with the relationship with the superpower. There the agreements that were signed are agreements that allowed the country to have a supremacy at least in the air. And you said it very well. Deterrence superiority, because Greece has no intention, it does not claim anything from Turkey...

What do we claim, as every small country must claim? To have the technological advantage. Only in this way can we ensure our ability to always prevent and defend. And if we can prevent, we won't need to defend. But this, I say again, means a totally different culture because we cannot rely only on the agreements with the United States that I had the honor to sign, nor on the agreements with France of which I am extremely proud, nor on the agreement with the Emirates, nor on the agreement with Saudi Arabia, nor in the agreements with Egypt...

And that's what we're trying to build. A possibility for the Greek Armed Forces to be self-sufficient and autonomous in the face of many challenges that are coming and which, I repeat, are not only purely military. They also have to do with electronic warfare, they also have to do with the possibility of interference in communications, they have to do with a lot of things."

The US election and Trump's statement

"It is very important for us to have understandings with the United States system from both parties. Because it is not only the executive power, the Presidency, the Government, it is the Congress, it is the House of Representatives. Greece needs alliances in the legislature as well and it has been proven that these alliances have a huge effect. So we have to maintain our contact with both the Republicans and the Democrats."

In relation to NATO and equal distances towards Turkey and Greece when Turkey is illegal

"NATO must realize two things in its evolution. First, that it is an Alliance of values. It is not just an Alliance of States. I'm not sure he's quite got it. On the contrary, in his attempt to appease Turkey or to keep Turkey within the boundaries of the Alliance, he has historically tolerated behavior that borders on the unacceptable."

As to whether it serves Greece for Turkey to continue to be in NATO.

"Greece would not want to be the cornerstone of the Western world against a fundamentalist Islamic country next to it, which will go from crisis to crisis, from problem to problem and from conflict to conflict. We are not biased against Turkey. Of course, the fact that we are not ready to agree to claims that are often beyond logic, not only beyond the law, that goes without saying. What man in his right mind would agree with the Turkish-Libyan memorandum? What person in their right mind would accept that the Greek islands sit on the Turkish continental shelf?"

Erdogan's visit to Egypt after 12 years and whether this shakes the Greek-Egyptian agreement.

"The signing of the Greek-Egyptian agreement is the right's response to the absurdity of the Turkish-Libyan memorandum...
And their understandings with Egypt are clear. This does not mean that they should not cultivate relations with Turkey, we never see it as competitive or exclusive. But they must always know that their first, sincere and permanent friends are Greece."

For the finding that cosmological changes have occurred and are occurring in the last thirty years, without Greece having suffered any terrible damage

“We came very close to taking massive damage and I'll tell them the timing. If the Muslim Brotherhood had remained in the leadership of Egypt and Egypt had signed with Turkey – they were very close – a Turkish-Libyan memorandum similar to theirs, then Greece would have been in a difficult position. Risks are not only dealt with within their borders. We have to have quick reflexes and relationships with the widest, not the widest area of ​​them...

Sub-Saharan Africa is also a vital area for Greece, Mr. Provatas, and not only for immigration. But immigration is something that everyone can understand that can create a crisis in Greece."

What are the things that, upon leaving the Ministry, Mr. Dendias would definitely like to have done, because in this way he will feel that he has fulfilled his duty to the Armed Forces and thus to the country

"I want us to have advanced a lot in the 2020-2030 agenda. That is, the structure has changed, not necessarily that they have been ordered, but the types of weapon systems in a broad sense have been chosen. Them, not only planes and ships, but also autonomous systems and to have production and maintenance capabilities for them. In other words, to have the entire innovation ecosystem needed to support modern armed forces. And that a reserve has been created which can strengthen the army, the army as a whole, in times of crisis but also in peace".

What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding or lack of understanding that the Greek people have to put aside in order for all that you say to happen?

"Their sense of security that the participation in the European edifice gave him. Yes, it is important, yes, it is great progress. Does it ensure absolute security for the country? No. The country must be able to defend itself."

For the last challenge of the Turks against the Kalymnian fishermen in Imia...

"The Treaty of Lausanne and their conditions can be easily read by their Turks and us, they know very well that everything that is beyond three miles is Greek, we know it to them too. So they are trying to create an issue of islands to have a second line of defense to their absolutely useless first line of defense that islands are not entitled to an Ice Shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone.
In other words, they create a second questioning, which cannot be accepted".

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