Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Time to get our act together

COMMENT

Greek submarine Matrozos.

TAGS: Defense

There has been much emotional praise over the past few weeks for the navy captains, air force pilots and army officers who have been operating on red alert. They deserve the plaudits, because they do so with little reward, scarce means and enormous difficulties. They don’t like to talk about these things or complain. They simply want to do their job properly and make sure that the nation’s sovereign territory is intact when the time comes to hand over office.

Words are good but deeds supporting these words are better. There is an urgent need that we get our act together as a society and as a state. We are facing a threat that will not go away. Greece’s strategic obligations have grown as they now concern the Eastern Mediterranean and not just the Aegean Sea.

National security should trump considerations of political cost. No MP should hinder essential decisions that have been dragging on for years such as the transfer of navy divisions from Volos to Athens or the move of the naval base and technical section to Crete. It should not be up to some misguided minister to prevent the radical restructuring of a defense industry that deteriorated under party manipulated and ignorant managements with a strong penchant for political favors. We do not have the luxury or time for political games.

Greece is in urgent need of a program to upgrade its defense capabilities; without mediators and without unnecessary obstacles. As things stand, even postponing the immediate reimbursement of pension cuts should be on the table, tough as this might be for a part of society. We need courageous decisions like the one that led to the purchase of the famous four submarines that everyone used to make fun of and are now proud of.

Greece is developing new alliances with the United Arab Emirates, Israel and others. It has an opportunity to engage in military production agreements and develop a hi-tech sector that will upgrade its national defenses. Progress hinges on broad political consensus. Political leaders are aware of the problems. The military brass has good knowledge of all the issues, as well as the required determination and competence.

If we fail to get our act together, if we fail to act quickly and forcefully, we shall be held accountable. Because the biggest peril is not a painful compromise – which is probably not an option with the present-day Turkish leadership anyway. The worse outcome would be escalating Finlandization.

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