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.

Q: Is there any benefit for Greece out of all this?

Ev. Venizelos: How can you be asking that? Imagine what would happen if Greece did not participate in the operation, how much prestige it would have lost at an international level, how the island of Crete would be of less importance, how the country’s strategic importance would be lower.

How could then Greece demand that military aircrafts flying in Athens FIR submit flight plans? How could Greece demand to participate in the oversight of the sea area between the island of Crete and Libya without participating in the operations themselves?

Q: So, there will be a diplomatic role for Greece to play, as soon as all this is over.

Ev. Venizelos: Wouldn’t the role of other neighboring countries have been upgraded too then? The Greek people contradict themselves as a society and I must say that the public statements of those who shape public opinion contradict themselves as well: [They say that] Greece does not want Turkey to have an upgraded international role, they want Greece to have the strongest possible international role. But at the same time, they do have reservations on whether the country should participate in the EU, NATO and UN mainstreams.

They don’t want us to actively participate in operations of an offensive nature [in Libya] but they are saddened by the fact that the Italian CAOC took over the command of the air operations against Libya, despite the fact that Larissa’s CAOC has a supporting role since 78% of the forces deployed are in Italy and France and only 22% of them in Greece.

Greeks want all that to take place simultaneously, without the country being able to balance itself though. That is not the way to exercise foreign policy. -

Tags: Interviews