Speech of YFETHA Nikolaos Hardalia at the conference of the World Inter-Parliamentary Union of Hellenism in Kastellorizo
The Deputy Minister of National Defense Mr. Nikolaos Hardalias, participated today Thursday, July 21, 2022, as a speaker at the conference organized by the World Inter-Parliamentary Union of Hellenism (PADEE) on “The Law of the Sea” in Kastellorizo.
The conference was attended by the former President of the Republic Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos as the keynote speaker, while the event was greeted with a video message by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Nikos Dendias. The debate was moderated by the Internationalist, Ph.D. of the University of the Aegean, Mr. George Noulas.
They also participated below Mr. expatriate state Senators, Members of Parliament and political figures:
– Leonidas RaptakisRhode Island State Senator, USA and Chairman Pi.a.D.E.E
– Effie Triantafilopoulos, Member of Provincial Parliament for Oakville North Burlington, Ontario Canada – 1the Vice president Pa.D.E.E.
– Steve Georganas, Member at Australian Parliament – 2o Vice president Pa.D.E.E.
– Stephen Pappas Wyoming State Senator, USA, Treasurer Pa.D.E.E.
– Emmanuella Lambropoulos, Member of Parliament for Saint-Laurent, Canada – Member Administrative Council Pa.D.E.E.
– John Spiros Wisconsin State Representative, USA – Member Administrative Council Pa.D.E.E.
– Andrea Michaels, Member at South Australian Parliament, Minister for Small and Family Business – Member Administrative Council Pa.D.E.E.
– Tom Koutsantonis, Member at South Australian Parliament, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport – Member Administrative Council Pa.D.E.E.
– Michael McCormack, Member at Australian Parliament, former Deputy Prime Minister – Member Pa.D.E.E.
– Aris BabikianMember of Parliament for Scarborough, Canada – Mmember of PA.D.E.E.
In the context of the conference, the mandated Regional Education Advisor of the South Aegean Region, Mr. Christos Bardos (representative of the South Aegean Regional Governor), while the work of the forum was attended, among others, by Mayor Megistis K. George Sampsakos.
On the sidelines of the conference, the Deputy Minister of National Defense had a private meeting with the Member of Parliament and former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. Michael McCormack.
The following is the speech of the Deputy Minister of National Defense at the conference:
“It is a special honor, and I really mean it and express it from the bottom of my heart, for me to represent the Hellenic Republic at today’s Conference on the Law of the Sea. An honor accompanied by feelings of satisfaction, if one takes into account the fact that it is a meeting of distinguished citizens, global citizens, of Greek origin from all over the world. Greek culture is not only the cradle of democracy, but also a dynamically evolving culture that continues to highlight representatives who play a prominent role in democratic institutions at the international level.
I would like to congratulate the Municipality of Megistis, the South Aegean Region and the World Inter-Parliamentary Union of Hellenism for once again organizing this important event here in Kastellorizo. You know, every time, but every time I visit this island, I feel that I come not only to an integral part of Greece and Europe, but also to the beating heart of our island territory. This is an excellent location for the organization of such a conference, the subject of which is the Law of the Sea.
Ladies and gentlemen, I consider the Law of the Sea to be one of those branches of Public International Law that, may I say, are “destined” to remain relevant, regardless of the current international situation. Kastellorizo is geographically located in an area where, believe me, the stakes for the Law of the Sea are consistently so high, that its correct application is of extreme importance for our country.
The basic and fundamental question that comes to mind when we discuss the Law of the Sea in Greek territory is what is the interdependence of our country with the sea. You know it, you know it well for the Greeks, for the last three and a half thousand years, the maritime environment was and still is a center of gravity, a reality that is clearly reflected in the principle of Thucydides, according to which “the great power of the sea state”. The emphasis given is the natural result of geography as well as long-term interests that associate the sea with security and with the economy, but above all with adherence to our principles.
By extension, Greece has always maintained a strong interest in the Law of the Sea. I need not argue for its usefulness or importance. I will suffice to say that the Law of the Sea is humanity’s best and most important tool for regulating an environment that by its very nature is full of challenges and has been a field of cooperation as well as a field of intense confrontations.
Its development, both conventional and customary, culminated in 1982 with the signing and subsequent entry into force of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. A real, you will allow me to say “Constitution of the Oceans”, which represents an unprecedented attempt to codify and progressively develop International Law. Greece clearly agrees with the internationally formed view that the provisions of the Convention, including those that reflect and codify existing customary principles, represent the main pillars of what we could call an international maritime rule of law.
Of course, there is also the European dimension in the application of the Law of the Sea. We must not ignore that the Greek maritime borders and the zones deriving from them are European at the same time. In addition, the European Union itself is a party to the Montego Bay Convention on the Law of the Sea. Therefore, any violations of Greek sovereign rights are also violations of European sovereign rights. I am convinced that the Europeanization of the foreign policy of the EU member states and in the maritime domain will be further strengthened in the coming years.
It is obvious that ensuring a stable but also safe environment, as well as a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with the other states of the region, always in accordance with International Law and the principles of good neighborliness, would work beneficially for both Greece and the European Union and NATO. Ideally, this approach should be considered beneficial by Turkey as well. In this direction, the new defense and foreign policy of our government is based on a unified design, which includes legal, military and diplomatic aspects. Let me be more clear:
Firstly, we affirm in practice and actively exercise our country’s rights based on the principles and provisions of the Law of the Sea. It is true that, over the previous decades, successive governments had adopted an approach of, may I say, simply enshrining the “status quo” which can be summed up as follows: “we claim nothing, we concede nothing”. This policy may be outdated, may be a thing of the past. Greece now has both the means and the will to ensure the full implementation of its rights under International Law. And in this context, in 2020 we signed maritime zone demarcation agreements with Italy and Egypt and, in 2021, we extended our country’s territorial waters from 6 to 12 nautical miles along its western coastline. At the same time, we retain our inalienable right to unilaterally expand the rest of our territorial waters at any point in time deemed necessary.
Secondly, we shield our homeland by increasing the deterrent power of our Armed Forces. Over the past three years, we have focused on strengthening our air, land and sea capabilities, as evidenced by the pivotal acquisition of three frigates Belharra (with option for another) and twenty-four fighter jets Rafalethe upgrade of some of our fighter aircraft F-16 in version VIPER and the impending supply of fighter jets F-35, as well as from various other equipment programs, such as the acquisition of seven helicopters MH-60 “Romeo” with excellent anti-submarine warfare capabilities. And I can assure you that we still have a long way to go!
Thirdly, we implement a sound, structured, multidimensional and multi-level diplomacy, with the aim of bringing together like-minded actors with common interests in our region. The number and weight of international agreements signed in the last three years is unprecedented. Allow me to mention, for example, the conclusion of the Agreement on the establishment of a Strategic Partnership for Defense and Security Cooperation with France in September 2021, the cornerstone of which is the clause of mutual assistance in the event of an armed attack against the territory of a of the two contracting parties. Also, the recent five-year extension of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States of America, which ensures a mutually beneficial strengthening of the American military footprint in our country, but also the conclusion of an agreement with the State of Israel for the supply of defense equipment and services, which was ratified by the Hellenic Parliament in July 2020.
In short, this administration has taken a new approach to its foreign policy, combining our country’s steadfast adherence to international law with the exercise of long-dormant sovereign rights. Our faith in our legal positions is absolute, our strong alliances are unwavering, the capability of our Armed Forces unquestionable.
Ladies and gentlemen, we live in a time of global and regional turmoil. Greece, our Greece, as usual, is near the “eye of the cyclone”. But the destiny of Hellenism throughout the centuries is always determined by our ability to remain united, to adapt and above all to prevail. I am convinced that, despite the extremely serious challenges of our times, our solidarity, determination and commitment to the rule of law will allow us, once again, to rise to the great challenges, to the world’s circumstances.
First Appeared at: defence247.gr