WAM Abu Dhabi, Feb 18th, 2013 (WAM) — Greece maintains good defence ties with the UAE and believes both countries have a strategic interest in further bolstering that relationship, Greece’s Minister of National Defence has said.
Panos Panagiotopoulos, whose country is a key participant in IDEX 2013, said Greece and the UAE have common interests to maintain security in their respective regions.
"I noticed with great satisfaction that our excellent relations in the defence domain keep on improving and upgrading constantly. Both countries share the common interest to maintain a security environment in their wider areas," he told Emirates News Agency (WAM).
"Thus, they have a strategic interest in upgrading their existing defence cooperation. It is well-known that international cooperation is a must for all Ministries of Defence and it is natural to try to cooperate always better with traditionally friendly countries." He said the UAE and Greece, through bilateral consultations, seek to identify areas of cooperation contributing to the mutual improvement of their armed forces.
"This continuing process that we have established is for the benefit of both parties. In general, I would like to underline that the main characteristic of my country, during this very critical period it is not the economic crisis that is underway but geographic and geostrategic position," the Minister said.
"Greece is a key country for the stability of the International Security system of the Southeastern Mediterranean and Middle East region, despite the economic restrains in our budget we continue to have the adequate military capability and our armed forces are among the best trained in the wider area .actually, we are training officers of UAE in our military academies and also in our defence military industry." In respect of Greece’s participation in IDEX, he said that three corporations with state participation (Hellenic Defence Systems, Hellenic Aerospace Industry and the Hellenic Vehicle Industry) and six private enterprises (Sunlight, MilTech, Theon, ELMON and Hellenic Shipyards) are exhibiting at the five-day show.
"The Hellenic government and myself highly appreciate and acknowledge the value and the importance of IDEX 2013 as an international event, which demonstrates the latest technology and achievements across all sectors of defence," he said.
"Therefore there is no doubt that presence of visitors from around the world including regional and international high profile officials and decision makers will give a vital boost to the Hellenic Defense Industry." Panagiotopoulos said Greece is also seeking to develop its already strong links with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He noted that in this respect, Greece plays a significant role in its geopolitical vicinity.
As a member of NATO and European Union as well as participating in a plethora of regional cooperation initiatives and organizations in the South Eastern Europe, the Black Sea, the Caucasus, the Mediterranean Sea, with traditional forms of cooperation with countries in the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab world, a gateway for Europe and NATO, Greece is placed at a strategic international crossroad. "We should bear in mind that EU has already started to develop its defensive branch," he said.
He said Greece’s defence industry covers the production of a wide range of products, such as: portable arms, ammunition, sea vessels (construction – repair) and inflatable boats, aircraft systems (structural parts – spare parts – engines maintenance / repair – ground support equipment), vehicle and vehicle superstructures (e.g. tank transporters, fire fighting vehicles, aircraft refueling vehicles, buses, shelters etc).
Products also include electronic, electro-optic and telecommunication systems, software for defence systems, metallic structures, cast materials as well as miscellaneous products e.g. camouflage nets, and protection equipment.
He said the industry consists of three state owned enterprises which are the: Hellenic Aerospace Industry, Hellenic Defense Systems and Hellenic Vehicles Industry and various private industries, many of which include small and medium enterprises.
About his country’s arms exports, he said the value stood at around 130 million euros in 2011 but had no figures for last year.