‘Greek armed forces can defend national rights, and do not lag behind Turkey’s in any respect’

Many people believe there is no longer any likelihood of military conflict between Greece and Turkey. Are they right? History and international relations show that conflict is always a means of resolving differences, though not of course the only one. Given Turkey’s continued questioning of our sovereign rights, I cannot agree with that view. In my opinion, our guiding principle should be the saying: «Whoever wants peace prepares for war.» In what respects do the Greek armed forces surpass or lag behind the Turkish forces? That demands a complex answer that is too long for an interview. Let me state briefly that technical comparisons may lead to mistaken conclusions. Comparing forces and potential, I can assure you that the Greek armed forces possess the appropriate capacity to support Greek policy and defend national rights, and that they do not lag behind in any respect. Of course, there is always room for improvement and upgrading. Do you think Turkish generals take action in the Aegean under orders from their political leaders or not? I don’t think it is of practical value to look at the question in those terms. The existence of different poles of power in a state or any rivalry between them is an interesting topic to study, but the essential thing for those exercising political power is the actions a state takes and their consequences. So I believe that Turkey’s stance and behavior are more important than how they are caused. In which fields do you think Greece should show the greatest readiness? Apart from readiness to deal with Turkey’s attitude and behavior at any time, there is a cluster of security challenges, such as the rising irredentism of some ethnic groups in the Balkans, global terrorism, international organized crime, illegal immigration and the dissemination of weapons of mass destruction. I believe these multidimensional challenges demand the adaptation of the armed forces and the formation of a thoroughgoing national security mechanism. Do relations between the military and political leadership need improvement? Relations between the military and political leadership are determined by an institutional framework which creates suitable conditions for harmonious cooperation. Freedom of action Problems only arise when one side steps outside jurisdiction. Political control of the armed forces is firmly established, so political leaders should trust the military leadership and allow it freedom of action at a technocratic level. Of course, political control is always a timely, sensitive and interesting issue for study, discussion and decision-making. Should Greece play a more active part in NATO? Would that help or hinder its national interests? There is a general expansion of the role played by various security organizations on the international scene. As a member of such organizations, our country has conventional obligations and must be an active participant. In that light, and guided by our declared national principles, our actions in NATO must be delimited each time so as to serve our national interests.

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