Much has been written about what Turkey has achieved in the area of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). But few know that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law, Selcuk Bayraktar, was introduced to this technology by a Greek professor who teaches at a famous US university and is considered a “guru.” Bayraktar holds a senior position in the Turkish war industry and is considered the man who set up the research and production program for unmanned aerial vehicles.
Obviously, I am not writing this to accuse a brilliant Greek scientist who cooperated with a Turkish student 17 years ago. But I am writing this because it seems stupid and suicidal to me that the Greek state has not found him and other such scientists who have excelled, and has not already founded such an excellent production program in Greece.
I confess that I do not understand it. We have all read that a very good joint effort was initiated by the University of Thessaly and the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAV) for the construction of the first Greek drone, which will be ready in two years. A commendable effort that we all hope will bring results. But the country’s needs are more urgent. We are forced to rent or buy drones while Turkey has specialized knowledge in their construction. And there are Greek experts with incredible know-how and experience who could offer ready-made solutions.
We pay for the carelessness, corruption, trade unionism, and incompetence of the political class that led the Greek defense industry to its collapse and complete transformation into a public sector-style company. The famous offsets became villas instead of going toward research. The cooperation of the armed forces with universities was a taboo that no one could overcome. No serious Greek working abroad will come to work in an environment where instead of meritocracy, mediocrity dominates and bribery prevails.
However, now that we are maturing as a country (one hopes), we must again try to figure out how we can bring together the best Greek minds in the country and the diaspora, along with capable officials in the public sector and private companies, shed the image described above, and become more like Israel.
I recently asked Pfizer President and CEO Albert Bourla, “Why can’t we become like Israel?” To which he replied: “We are much better in many areas. The problem is that we do not have the direct connections and liaisons with our diaspora that Israel has.” Exactly! Thus we get to the point of ignoring our top minds, which are exploited by our neighbor.