The Minister of National Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos is making an official visit to the United States on Monday, July 18.
The expansion and deepening of the strategic defense relationship between Greece and the US is the top priority of N. Panagiotopoulos’ trip.
Besides, the level of defense cooperation between Greece and the USA is already very high. This is reflected in the upgrade of the mutual defense cooperation agreement, with the signing of the two amending protocols, in 2019 and 2021 as well as the new locations now included in the agreement.
At the same time, Greece’s perennial geostrategic importance and its contribution to the security and stability of the wider region make the country a valuable ally and partner for the USA.
As part of his visit to the US, the Secretary of National Defense will have a meeting at the Pentagon with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Their agenda is expected to include issues of broad cooperation between the Greek and American Armed Forces and the strengthening of cooperation between the two countries in security matters in the wider region.
Besides, the new locations and the creation of new infrastructures in them will strengthen their capabilities and facilitate joint activities. Among the new locations, the role of the port of Alexandroupolis is central, especially after the developments in Ukraine.
In addition, the talks will include issues related to the acquisition of new defense capabilities and equipment such as the acquisition of F-35 aircraft.
For the specific fifth-generation fighter jets, the process recently started with the dispatch of the LOR to the US by the General Directorate of Defense Equipment and Investments, according to the directive of the Minister of National Defense. Their acquisition will strengthen the country’s deterrent capacity as well as the interoperability of the Greek-US Armed Forces.
In addition, the security situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and the war in Ukraine and wider geopolitical security challenges are on the agenda of the meeting between the two ministers.
N. Panagiotopoulos is expected to refer to the issue of the provocative and delinquent behavior of Turkey, which with overflights over Greek islands and frequent statements about the demilitarization of the islands, creates tension in the region in violation of International Law.
The program of Nikos Panagiotopoulos also includes a meeting with political officials of the State Department, as well as with Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as other senators and members of the Committees on Foreign Affairs and Defense, of the two legislative Bodies.
In this round of meetings, the issue of upgrading the Turkish F-16s is also expected to be discussed, taking into account that it is important to ensure that there will be consequences for Turkey if it uses American aircraft for violations and overflights, and in general takes actions to the detriment of sovereignty and our sovereign rights.
The program of N. Panagiotopoulos also includes meetings with the leadership and executives of the Heritage Foundation and Rand Corporation think tanks in Washington.
On July 20, the secretary will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, where the F-35 fighter jets are manufactured, for a briefing and meeting with Lockheed Martin leadership and F-35 program officials.
In Washington, N. Panagiotopoulos will have meetings with leading figures of the diaspora, while on July 21 he will be the keynote speaker at the AHEPA Conference in Orlando.
The conference is being held on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the historic organization with the major contribution to the promotion of our national issues, the friendship between Greece and the USA and the strong ties between their peoples.