OPINION

Greece’s lost defense industry

In the last 30 years Greece has purchased some of the most expensive state-of-the-art defense systems. It is very shocking and sad that the country never succeeded in developing an elementary defense industry of its own.

This was never due to a lack of human resources. Greeks with experience of working in large industries abroad, along with top scientists and technicians, have always been there, capable of providing an excellent basis for the development of a serious industry.

Their efforts, however, never came to fruition thanks to the middlemen who infested the field of military procurements and discovered the production line of offset agreements for defense contracts.

The country paid extra for every system it acquired with the vague promise that Greek companies would take over part of production.

The offset programs proved one of the greatest scams the country has ever observed, leaving the Greek state with tangible benefits in a very limited number of cases. Instead, commissions were used to splash out on Porsche Cayennes by a few well-connected businessmen and their protectors.

The country’s state-owned defense industry, a sector which had up to a certain point stood its ground and demonstrated its capacity to compete for subcontracts by major companies, also found itself on the road to decline. That was accomplished by unionists and party officials appointed by the political system who got involved in the sector.

Greece did not produce anything and whenever it did try to produce something, it was three or four times more expensive.

Could things have been different? The answer is yes. There are countries of Greece’s size which have made considerable progress through small and medium-sized companies specializing in specific systems.

There was no space left for such efforts in Greece given that those representing the big companies and a few other go-betweens involved in the process ended up draining the system of its last euro.

In contrast to Greece, Turkey has covered major ground in the field of the co-production of airplanes as well as a number of other areas. This was achieved by Turkey in a methodical fashion and with discipline.

Greece, on the other hand, managed to spend several billion euros without having anything to show for it in terms of the country’s production abilities. Yet one more example of bad management with crucial repercussions in a case of national importance.