Participation of HYTHA N. Dendias in the 27th Round Table Discussion of the Economist with the Greek Government

The Minister of National Defence, Nikos Dendias, participated today, Tuesday, October 24, 2023, in the 27th Round Table Discussion of the Economist with the Greek Government, in Lagonisi, in the thematic section “Defense and Security in the Eastern Mediterranean”.

The discussion also took part in Florence Parly (former Minister of Defense of France), h Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (former Minister of Defense of Germany) and o Hryhoriy Nemyria (Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Ukraine and former Deputy Prime Minister).

Her discussion coordinated the Joan Hoey (editor, The Democracy Index, & senior analyst for Greece, The Economist Group).

Mr. Dendias stated during his deposition:

“It is a great pleasure and honor for me to participate in the 27th annual Economist Conference with the very timely title, ‘Defence and Security in the Eastern Mediterranean.’

Just as the International Community is trying to deal with the possibility of a new conflict, we unfortunately have two armed conflicts in our wider region and if we add Nagorno Karabakh and Yemen, four.

Also, a civil war in Sudan and a complete destabilization in the wider Sahel region. And in a tragic irony today we celebrate the founding of the United Nations.

A moment when we are perhaps as far away as ever from the implementation of the principles and values ​​that the United Nations charter expresses.

For us, for the Hellenic Republic, the defense of these principles is always at the core of our policy. After all, this is demonstrated by the three nominations of our homeland, Greece, for the first time in our history, for the position of non-permanent member of the Security Council, for the Presidency of the General Assembly and also for a member of the Human Rights Council.

Ladies and gentlemen, Greece directly and from the first moment condemned the terrorist attacks of Hamas. Acts of blind violence that cost the lives of too many civilians above all others and that, in our judgment, weaken the legitimate expectations of the Palestinian people. Yesterday, among others, the Prime Minister of Greece, who was in Israel, spoke about the protection of civilians.

In the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece, a member of the European Union and NATO, seeks to consolidate stability, security and create conditions for economic development.

We Greeks have always perceived the Mediterranean as a bridge, not as a natural barrier. As a bridge that unites peoples, cultures, civilizations. After all, the stabilizing role of our country is proven by the hundreds, more than 350 agreements we have concluded in the last four years, with countries from all over the world, with the two Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreements between Greece and the United States prominent. As also from the defense agreement with France, the defense agreement with the United Arab Emirates, the strategic agreement with Saudi Arabia and the two agreements delimiting Exclusive Economic Zones with Italy and Egypt, with which we maintain a strategic relationship and also with the multiple multilateral and tripartite consensus schemes we maintain with the Republic of Cyprus.

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I am not telling you anything new if I tell you that our partnerships provide for the participation of everyone, without any exception, with a basic condition of full respect for International Law, the International Law of the Sea and the Charter of the United Nations.

We also believe in the presence in our region of the United States and NATO, we believe that they can act as a foundation of stability. We believe that NATO is not only a Defense Alliance, but an alliance for the defense of values ​​and principles and that the Russian invasion of Ukraine highlighted precisely this role of NATO.

And I would like to take this opportunity to say that I welcome President Erdogan’s decision yesterday to advance Swedish NATO membership as a piece of legislation in the Turkish National Assembly.

Ladies and gentlemen, in our wider region, as I told you before, we are facing a geopolitical Gordian link. You will allow me to say that this has causes. And the causes have a lot to do with the five wrong basic assumptions that the vast majority of us made at the beginning of the 21st century.

The first false premise is that Democracy has finally taken hold on the planet and will continue to spread. It turned out to be the opposite of reality, just look at what is happening in the Sahel countries.

The second false assumption is that as China becomes wealthier and more powerful economically it would become more open and more democratic.

The third false working assumption was that regardless of NATO’s eastward enlargement, Russia would become a member of the European security architecture, would also ensure stability in the South Caucasus, and would remain a steady supplier of cheap energy to Europe.

The fourth false assumption was that the Palestinian issue can be sidelined and dealt with in the distant future when the dividing lines between Israel and the Arab world have ceased to exist.

And the fifth false assumption, perhaps the most devastating of the four others combined, is that the model of economic growth that we have followed in the 21st century can continue in the 21st century without addressing the consequences of climate change.

The consequences, therefore, have already manifested themselves and the signs for the future if we do not react immediately are ominous. And not only these. Revisionism after decades undertakes with historical audacity to question values ​​and conditions on which the global security architecture is based.

I don’t need to tell you much about the signs of the environmental crisis. A few hundred kilometers further north, Thessaly has suffered, but so have Italy and Slovakia.

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As you know, Greece has assumed the presidency of Our Ocean Conference. A conference of special interest for the protection of the Mediterranean ecosystem and the seas.

But these are not the only challenges. Irregular migration from East and South to North and West has intensified. Democratic governments, such as the Government of Niger under President Bazum, are overthrown. In this geopolitical environment, strengthening NATO’s cooperation with the European Union is more necessary than ever.

By adopting the strategic compass, the European Union shows its will to play an important geopolitical role and, cooperating with NATO, can ensure security and stability in the Mediterranean and beyond.

But I have to say that there are problems, while in the face of the Russian invasion the European Union maintained a commendable unanimous and firm stance, in the Middle East crisis it returned to the traditional polyphonic cacophony and also in the Western Balkans, it often regresses.

And NATO, for its part, includes countries that get away with imposing sanctions on Russia or that forget to condemn Hamas’s murderous attacks on civilians.

The current situation developing in the Middle East poses additional problems to the model we have chosen for our development. It creates additional risks in energy supply issues. We, Greece, support and serve the diversification of energy sources, suppliers and pathways. The liquefied natural gas storage facilities in Alexandroupolis, Revythoussa and in the future in Volos and Corinth, TAP, the Greece-Bulgaria and Greece-North Macedonia vertical pipelines, East Med, the EuroAsia and EuroAfrica electrical interconnections are projects that serve the contribution of Greece in this differentiation.

In fact, a few days ago I signed together with my Bulgarian and Romanian counterparts a “Letter of Intent” for the extension of the NATO fuel supply pipeline to Bulgaria and Romania, ensuring their ability to have alternative sources of energy.

Ladies and gentlemen, under the current conditions of questioning the fragile geopolitical balance in our region, we, the Hellenic Republic, consider ourselves to remain a factor of geopolitical and energy stability within the context of our capabilities and size.

We are committed to resolving disputes based on the principles of International Law and the Law of the Sea. We remain active in regional initiatives for peace, far from ideologies of past centuries, from threats, from perceptions of the era of the gunboats.

We recognize the end of the era of dogmas and ossified concepts, which lead societies to dead ends, but we are always ready to defend our sovereignty and our sovereign rights, as they arise from International Law and the International Law of the Sea.

Thank you very much”.

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