Meeting of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos with the US Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Mr. Lloyd Austin

Meeting of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos with the US Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Mr. Lloyd Austin

The Minister of National Defense Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulosmet on Monday 18 July 2022, at the Pentagon with his American counterpart, Mr. Lloyd Austin (Lloyd Austin).

During the talks, the Minister highlighted its importance broadening and deepening the Strategic Defense Relationship between Greece and the USA, which is at an extremely high level after the Amendment to the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (Mutual Defense Cooperation AgreementMDCA) in November 2019 and October 2021. The eight new locations that are now included in the Agreement – and in particular Alexandroupoli – reflect the strategic character of the defense cooperation of the two countries and the timeless geostrategic importance of Greece.

They were also discussed The war in Ukraine, the security situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and wider geopolitical security challenges.

Mr. Panagiotopoulos acknowledged Mr. Austin’s decisive role in coordinating the efforts of the countries that provide support to Ukraine and pointed out that Greece implemented the sanctions against Russia from the first moment, despite the high costs they entail, and provided all possible assistance.

In addition, the Minister underlined that revisionism is a key threat both to the interests of the two countries and to NATO. It must be a common goal, he stressed, to protect the international legal order, against any illegal and revisionist behavior, in violation of fundamental rules of International Law and the principle of good neighborliness.

Turkey insists on its revisionist behavior regarding the legally unfounded claim of demilitarization of the Eastern Aegean islands and provocative violations of the ECHR and overflights of populated areas by Turkish warplanes. It must follow the path of de-escalation and productive dialogue with absolute respect for International Law, abandoning its aggressive rhetoric.

Regarding the acquisition of 5th generation fighter jets F-35 from Greece, Mr. Panagiotopoulos emphasized that it is a new milestone in the strategic cooperation of the two countries, which will contribute to the country’s deterrence capacity, and the closer cooperation and interoperability of the Greek and US Armed Forces.

The Minister of National Defense also had a meeting with the Senior Policy Advisor to the US Secretary of State, Mr.Derek Solett (Derek Chollet), at the State Department. In addition, he met with the leadership and executives of the think tank “Heritage Foundation“, the head of the Program (Joint Program Office) of the fighter aircraft F-35, Lt. Michael Schmidt (Lt Gen Michael Schmidt)its President American Hellenic Institute (AHI) K. Nikos Laryngakis and board members, as well as with Mr. Andy Manatos founder and President of the foundation ¨Oxi Dayand Mike Manatos Executive Director thereof.

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Following are the opening speeches delivered by the Minister of National Defense and his American counterpart at the Pentagon:

NIKOLAOS PANAGIOTOPOULOS: “Mr. Minister, dear Lloyd, it is a great pleasure to meet you today here in Washington. It is a real honor to visit the Pentagon. So let me first emphasize in my turn the importance of a strong, deep, and ever-expanding strategic defense partnership between the United States and Greece, a partnership that has reached its highest point in its history in recent years after the two mutual defense cooperation agreement updates in 2019 and last year. The excellent level of Greek-US defense cooperation, combined with joint trainings and joint exercises that increase interoperability, as well as the expanded presence of US military forces in new areas and strategic points of Greek territory, as you mentioned, is proof of our common will and a desire to increase our readiness in order to face common threats and challenges and to protect our interests in the wider region, which is an area of ​​particular geopolitical importance.

Of these areas, Souda is known for its particular strategic importance in the South-Eastern Mediterranean, while Alexandroupoli, as you mentioned, with its proximity to the Black Sea has proved critical to our efforts to provide support to Ukraine.

Mr. Minister,

let me commend the catalytic role you have played and your leadership in efforts by a large number of countries to provide support to Ukraine. Greece’s reaction to the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine was indeed immediate and decisive. We have offered all possible assistance to Ukraine, a country which is being attacked in violation of every rule of International Law. We have implemented all of the sanctions imposed on the attacker despite their costs and are willing to consider any other actions, any other form of assistance.

Greece is an important hub for supporting and protecting – projecting the allied presence in a region facing various forms of revisionism. Revisionism, whether it takes the form of questioning basic rules governing the international legal order, whether it is expressed by seeking to change internationally recognized borders, or both, as is often the case, is a major threat to the interests of Greece, the interests of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in general. Therefore, revisionism of any form is a threat to stability. Revisionism must not prevail.

We must be vigilant, stick to our principles and be determined to avoid any negative precedent and take a common position against any such illegal and destabilizing behavior. The basic common goal must be the protection of the international legal order based mainly on International Law and good neighborly relations.

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Dear Lloyd,

I am particularly pleased that our meeting today will be an opportunity to discuss ways to further deepen and expand our defense cooperation, which is already at an excellent level. A new milestone in this strategic partnership is undoubtedly Greece’s procurement of the modern F-35 fighter jet, which is a big step towards strengthening our deterrence and even closer interaction, coordination and interoperability between the Armed Forces of Greece and the United States.

As I said, a lot has been done, but in terms of the further development of our strategic cooperation, there are no limits, which fits perfectly in relation to the procurement of NATO’s next fifth generation fighter jet.

Thank you for your hospitality.”

LLOYD AUSTIN: “Mr. Minister, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to the Pentagon, I am very happy to see you again after the NATO Summit in Madrid, which was an excellent and historic summit.

This meeting underlined the importance of transatlantic relations for our common security. This is especially critical as Ukraine continues to resist Russia’s unprovoked and unjust invasion. So, Mr. Minister, I would like to thank you for the help that Greece offers in the field of security, supporting Ukraine which is facing Russia’s unjustified attack against its peaceful neighbor.

Your Prime Minister visited Washington in May to meet with President Biden and deliver a historic speech to a joint session of Congress, during which he noted that our two countries share common values ​​and ideals, and these principles are the foundation upon which the strong and ever-expanding relationship between us was built. They are also the reason why we have continued to make progress as a security partner for many years.

Defense relations between the United States and Greece are stronger than ever. The updated US-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement reflects our countries’ unwavering commitment to shared peace and security and has enabled the enhancement of US forces in Greece in support of United States and NATO objectives of strategic access to the region.

We especially thank Greece for hosting the US Naval Support Forces in Souda, which is the cornerstone of our defense relationship. I would also like to highlight the priority access your government has granted to our forces at the port of Alexandroupolis which allows us to continue to provide military assistance to Ukraine and engage hostile elements, as well as conduct exercises and operations in the Balkans, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea region.

Mr. Minister,

thank you again for coming. We are very glad that you are with us. I look forward to having an excellent discussion today about our continued partnership working for peace and security.”


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