Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said in an interview with a Greek newspaper that the perpetrators were being prosecuted under “the terms of the military penal code”. TA NEA.
Not only did he not retreat from his words about “Swiss cheese” and the leaks that he imputed to the military, but he insisted on his point of view and announced harsh measures!
JOURNALIST: Mr. Minister, “Pentagon” is “Swiss cheese”?
NIKOLAOS PANAGIOTOPOULOS: I don’t mean specifically the “Pentagon”, but the entire system of the military hierarchy, from the non-commissioned officer and above. Leaks somewhere in the media of classified information on security issues, such as, for example, the reserves and capabilities of the systems of the armed forces, this is what I am particularly concerned about at the moment. In Parliament, I urged the Chiefs of Staff to take action to combat this phenomenon. I believe that such behavior should be treated in terms of the military penal code, and not in a relaxed way. We must all take responsibility. I will give orders immediately.
JOURNALIST: You have been heavily criticized by the opposition for sending defense materials to Ukraine. What is better than the “Marders” that will replace the “BMP-1”?
NIKOLAOS PANAGIOTOPOULOS: The agreement on the concession of armored fighting vehicles BMP-1, with their replacement with an equal number of TOMA “Marder” 1A3, is considered beneficial for the armed forces, according to the headquarters.
BMP-1s met the needs of our defense unit, but these are old technologies vulnerable to damage, maintenance problems due to the difficulty of finding spare parts, problematic in terms of their participation in night operations, as required by the modern battlefield. “Marders” are more modern than the BMP-1, with better field support capabilities.
So they are the best solution compared to the BMP-1. Of course, you need to look at the situation with the proposed support packages and all the issues related to their acquisition. A particularly fundamental issue is the simultaneous replacement of the BMP-1 by them, so that there is no gap in our defense.
Therefore, the final agreement following the one in principle between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of Germany will appear when all these technical conditions are settled. Our goal is to move quickly and also guarantee what we ask for.
JOURNALIST: Will we have decisions to further strengthen the fleet in the summer?
NIKOLAOS PANAGIOTOPOULOS: The schedule requires it. The Navy is currently considering final proposals from companies interested in the corvette program and the modernization of four MEKOs.
An important parameter of the process is the launch of the final solution to the problem of shipyards (Skaramagkas, Elefsina). Since we make it a prerequisite for the implementation of programs to build / modernize ships in Greek shipyards, it is absolutely necessary to complete the relevant investment initiatives in order for shipbuilding work to come to Greece, but in shipyards with modernized capabilities, in order to act correctly and quickly.
JOURNALIST: Two years after Turkey’s political attack on Evros and the Oruts Reyes crisis, are the armed forces at a higher level to prevent any threat?
NIKOLAOS PANAGIOTOPOULOS: Of course! During these two years, much has been done to strengthen the armed forces as a whole. We have concluded strategically important defense cooperation agreements with strong allies and partners in the region, and not only that. We have agreements to acquire advanced weapons systems, but also to maintain and upgrade existing ones.
I will mention, among others, 24 “Rafale”: six have already been received in record time, the next six will be by the end of the year and we continue to upgrade the F-16 to the Viper version, which is being developed. The imminent receipt of the first Romeo helicopters, the gradual acceptance of the M1117 armored personnel carriers, of course, the acquisition of three ultra-modern frigates “Belh@rra”, the acquisition of modern torpedoes, missile systems from Israel, a strategic agreement to establish an international training center for Ikarus in Calais, subsequent contracts for Apache, Mirage 2000-5 and C-27 vehicles, which are already improving availability.
I think that a lot has been done, but there are many needs, and much remains to be done. However, it must be well remembered that what has already happened took place not in an atmosphere of calm and comfort, but in very difficult conditions of almost simultaneous management of unprecedented crises, even a war on European soil. But we, the political and military leadership, worked very hard. There was a serious plan, we have achieved tangible results and continue.
JOURNALIST: Do you think the hot summer of 2020 could happen again?
NIKOLAOS PANAGIOTOPOULOS: Estimates, scenarios and assumptions are not as important as vigilance and preparedness in the face of any security challenge or threat. The geopolitical situation is not only complex, it has become volatile and dangerous. It takes all our concentration, all our strength, to be ready, belligerent and restraining.
Continuous work is required in many areas (alliances, multilateral or bilateral formations, partnerships, weapons, infrastructure). However, I have confidence in the personnel of the armed forces, from leadership to the bottom of the hierarchy, that they will respond, as in the summer of 2020, and when required. We, as political leaders, are here to help them do their jobs better.
JOURNALIST: Mr. Minister, this is the first time Turkey has so openly and officially questioned the sovereignty of the Greek islands. Overflights and violations by fighters and UAVs have not stopped, the escalation is also at the level of rhetoric, and research in the Aegean is underway. Where is it going?
NIKOLAOS PANAGIOTOPOULOS: For some time, Turkey has escalated tension not only with words, but also with actions, directly calling into question our sovereign rights. Perhaps the Turkish leadership is worried about the fact that Greece, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is raising its geopolitical weight, systematically building strategic alliances with strong international players and at the same time rapidly increasing the overall deterrent power of the armed forces.
The escalation may be driven in part by pre-election tactics that aim to rally a domestic audience around a leader who faces serious domestic problems, especially in the economic arena.
In any case, the government and the prime minister are interested in building a solid wall to stop Turkish revisionism, in order to vigorously defend our sovereign rights. This is what we have been striving for from the very beginning, this is what we do.