Wednesday, 30 March 2011

 

Q: Referring to Libya, how many months of operations can Greece sustain financially, given the monthly national cost of €6.5 million?

Ev. Venizelos: That cost is minimal. If you happened to listen to the briefing in the U.S. Congress or in other Parliaments of small countries that participate, such as Belgium, Norway or Denmark, you’d see that they bear costs much larger than that because they have fighting jets doing sorties all the time.

Q: But they’re rather well-off economically.

Ev. Venizelos: The figure of the €6.5 million that I mentioned in Parliament yesterday is the cost of Greece’s monthly contribution in accounting terms, assuming for a moment that, for national reasons, our frigate or the aerial radar would not engage. That is if we paid nothing for operating costs for the frigate, aerial radar and the Search and Rescue helicopter. That’s how Greece calculates its contribution to NATO. The real cost is much lower.

Tags: Interviews

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Special Hearing of the National Defense and Foreign Affairs

Parliamentary Committee

Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos briefs the MPs on the events in Libya

The overall situation

left-red-arrowOver the last few weeks we have been witnessing impressive –I’d say historic- developments in the Mediterranean region, in the Middle East, in North Africa and many Gulf countries. We see history in the making. The situation in the Arab world is changing and to a large extent we see collapsing stereotypes –under the scope of which we used to see things over the past few years, especially since the fall of Communism and the emergence of a new global balance of power.

New societies and demographic phenomena that emerge have little to do with the European standards. We can have an ambitious and long discussion about the deeper causes of those changes that appear to be, nonetheless, democratically led, demanding citizen participation in political power. For a country like Greece and for a continent such as Europe, who claim to exercise a principle-based policy, it is very important to express our awe and satisfaction, because those universal ideological characteristics remain alive. One can not be but positive, opposite the demand for democratic participation, for the rule of law and for the respect of human rights.

Tags: Parliament

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Q: We all watch worried and confused what is taking place among the allied countries that participate in the strikes against Libya; we see mainly an incapacity by NATO to reach a decision. We see that the US, Britain and other countries seeking, in vain, NATO to take command. Tell me, to the best of your knowledge, where do discussions stand at the moment and how close is a decision by NATO?

Ev. Venizelos: As NATO Secretary General Mr. Rasmussen announced, the process for conducting an operation regarding an arms embargo has been completed. The process for an operation implementing a no-fly zone is still outstanding. All parties involved believe that a decision on the latter will have been made by tomorrow, or the day after, at the latest.

Tags: Interviews

Tuesday, 22 March

left-red-arrowThe NATO Defence Ministers Summit was convened yesterday in Brussels and important decisions regarding the future of the Alliance were taken. The Minister of Defence, Mr. Evangelos Venizelos, attended the Summit.

The Defence Ministers made decisions about the geographical determination of the Joint Force Commands and of other staff entities for NATO’s New Command Structure, under the framework of the Lisbon Summit of last November. The New Command Structure is simpler and is adapted to the fiscal situation of all the Alliance’s member-states.

One of the most important changes being introduced by the New Command Structure is the elimination of the Component Command Air Izmir (CC-AIR) and its substitution by an Allied Land Forces Command which is being transferred from Spain. The sole Component Command Air (CC-AIR) will be based in Germany (Ramstein), while the only Component Command Maritime (CC-MAR) will be based in the United Kingdom (Northwood).

Tags: Press Conferences

Monday, 21 March 2011

 

Q: We are happy and honored, ladies and gentlemen, to have on the phone the Minister of National Defence, Mr. Evangelos Venizelos. Good morning, Minister.

Ev. Venizelos: Good morning.

Q: How do you see the situation in Libya evolving?

Ev. Venizelos: We still have a lot of ground to cover, I must say. The situation is not at all simple and no-one can safely predict what will happen. The truth is, however, that an international correlation is now in force, applying strong pressure in the internal affairs of Libya as well.

Tags: Interviews

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Q: Mr. Minister, we’d like a comment about the visit of Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Davutoglu, to Greece a few days ago. There were some comments made [by Mr. Davutoglu] that certain Greek media outlets deemed as provoking, such as the Minister’s statement on Kastelorizo island or the way Mr. Davutoglu behaved during his tour in Northern Greece’s northern Thrace region.I’d like to ask you whether you think that a new era in Greek-Turkish relations truly exists or if it’s a myth.

Ev. Venizelos: Greece is constructive and creative in its foreign policy but is not naïve. We believe in the need of a Greek-Turkish rapprochement, under a certain prerequisite: that Turkey believes in its path towards the West, meaning it has a diplomatic and military attitude that meets the rules and principles of western practices.

Tags: Interviews

Monday, 14 March 2011

Q: During his recent visit [to Greece] Mr. Davutoglu persisted, perhaps using fresh language, in the old Turkish claim that the International Convention on the Law of the Sea cannot apply to the Aegean Sea and that Kastelorizo island, although it is Greek, it does not have neither a Continental Shelf nor a full Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). What is your assessment?

Ev. Venizelos: For Greece, its strategy of rapprochement with Turkey is reflected on the strategic choice by the neighboring country [Turkey] to fully integrate into western institutions, with all the consequences in terms of diplomatic and, primarily, military behavior and practice. Greece wants to see applied, in the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, what is being applied in other NATO and EU regions. [Greece wants to see] common rules and common practices being upheld, as far as military aircraft and warship sails are concerned for example. To have common rules as far as the allocation of responsibility in search and rescue (SAR) is concerned, in the event of an air or maritime accident. To have common rules and practices as far as sea and under-sea explorations are concerned.

Tags: Interviews

Thursday, 03 March 2011

On the evacuation operation of Egyptian nationals from Tunisia

left-red-arrowYesterday, the Egyptian ambassador informed me and my colleague the Foreign Minister on a severe humanitarian issue: One and a half million Egyptian citizens live in Libya right now. These people are targeted by the Qaddafi forces because they believe they are behind the uprising. Some 400 to 500 thousand of Egyptians are desperately trying to flee Libya and around 100,000 of them have already crossed the border to Tunisia, gathering at the coast of the neighboring country hoping to be transported back to Egypt. So, Egypt is asking for our help. Egypt has already asked countries like France and Turkey to help so we will contribute with military and civilian boas if necessary in this kind of operation. I want you to consider the (huge) size of this operation.

Tags: Parliament

Wednesday, 02 March 2011


Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for your very warm presentation of my ministerial itinerary. Thank you also for your invitation. President of the Assembly, Mr. Chairman, dear parliamentary colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

I’m really happy to welcome you here in Athens in my capacities as Minister for Defense and member of the Hellenic Parliament. As you may know, in the Greek parliamentary system a Minister can also be an MP and it is very common that members of the Government are also Members of the Parliament; this helps them to be stronger attached to their parliamentary responsibility and feel accountable to the electorate, under a constant control by the civil society.

Tags: Speeches

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

“Global Challenges: NATO, the UN and the EU in the New Strategic Reference Framework”

left-red-arrowMessrs. General Consuls, General, Ambassador and Mr. Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus I am glad to see all of you here. Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends, it would be unoriginal to say that within such a fluid and insecure world it is very important to look for certain stable points of reference which allow for a basic and safe prognosis and a strategy that is a working hypothesis that must be put to test in the field, rather than a doctrine.

Tags: Speeches