Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Acting smart, at a crucial crossroads

COMMENT

TAGS: Defense

The pandemic will at some point be over. And so will the fuss over this year’s anniversary of Greece’s 1973 student uprising at the Athens Polytechnic. It has after all become a part of the national furniture. Turkey, on the other hand, is here to stay. It will continue to be around, pushing for a Finlandization of the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.

A nation which has no clear sense of priorities will not get very far. Nor will a nation that is plagued by division and strong passions without any sense of restraint.

We stand at a crucial crossroads. Turkey has strengthened its military capability, its ability to carry out hybrid warfare, and it has increased the use of mercenaries to substitute its own troops. Developments in the recent war between Azerbaijan and Armenia should serve as a wake-up call and mobilize us immediately.

The choice is clear: We will either turn into a state that naively waits for the help of the Europeans or the Americans when things get tough, or we will get ourselves together and set clear objectives in order to make serious progress.

Certainly we must sort out our priorities. We are not a member of the G7 – we aren’t able to buy Rafale and F-35 fighter jets and large numbers of frigates and upgrade the military systems we already own all at the same time. Each of the country’s partners – in inverted commas or not – and every private company has the right to sell what they want to sell. That said, our military leadership is aware of the country’s actual needs and together with the government, which is seriously dealing with the issue at the highest level, they can hammer out a responsible policy and move ahead fast. With full transparency, but fast.

After all, the point is not to solve the accumulated problems but to make real leaps. We need to finally set up a domestic defense industry, connect the country’s technical universities with the Ministry of Defense, pursue co-productions with local allies such as the United Arab Emirates and Israel, and, of course, start thinking smart, outside of the box. 

Because it’s OK to make large and expensive defense procurements, but, as the case of Armenia demonstrated, you must also urgently find a solution for the Turkish drones. If we want to afford the luxury of pointless squabbling about the past, we must first make sure that we survive as a nation into the future.

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