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Greek Defense Minister tells AHI audience U.S. has “reliable partner” in Greece

Featured Greek Defense Minister tells AHI audience U.S. has “reliable partner” in Greece

The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted Greece’s Minister of National Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos for a virtual speakers forum in honor of Hellenic Armed Forces Day, November 18, 2020. Minister Panagiotopoulos presented a defense policy briefing to the audience.  

Brigadier General Antonios Panidis opened the forum with a presentation that highlighted the geopolitical dynamics of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Greek Armed Forces.

To open his briefing, Minister Panagiotopoulos thanked AHI, adding, “The American Hellenic Institute is an organization which contributes to the strengthening of the bonds between the USA and Greece.”

He presented three key points: “We estimate that the security environment in the Eastern Mediterranean is characterized by three basic and interconnected driving forces: a) the recent hydrocarbons discovery in the sea zone between Israel, Cyprus and Egypt, b) the geopolitical antagonisms and the power imbalances, and c) the increased interest for the region demonstrated by foreign powers and major actors in the international scene.”

Minister Panagiotopoulos strongly noted that in a return to a world driven by great power competition, the United States has a reliable partner in Greece because Greece shares common interests and common values with the United States.

In addition, he emphasized the Eastern Mediterranean partnership between Greece, Cyprus, and Israel provides peace and stability to the region, and he contrasted that stability to the arc of instability Turkey is creating.

“The recent provocations made by Ankara in our region constitute a series of ten successive Navtexs for research since July, which we consider illegal, within the Greek continental shelf,” Panagiotopoulos said. “[These actions], in combination with the intense mobility of the Turkish Navy, constitutes a severe escalation with destabilizing consequences for regional peace.”

Minister Panagiotopoulos engaged in a Q&A with AHI President Nick Larigakis and the virtual audience. Larigakis asked the Minister about the financial strain that Turkey’s provocative actions and constant violations of Greek sovereignty causes. Minister Panagiotopoulos also spoke about Greece’s actions in modernizing and upgrading its armed forces, and the importance of having open channels of communication and dialogue with Turkey. However, he emphasized the importance that negotiations with Turkey cannot be under the auspices of its gunboat diplomacy, adding his dismay to Turkey’s actions in Varosha and other actions that destabilize the region.