It is important to note that at the diplomatic level, frivolous assessments, regressions and a lack of political cooperation to formulate a Greek national strategy have not led us to a desired result, as evidenced by EU decisions.
Since there is no common European defense and security policy, and when EU foreign policy is determined by the interests of the powerful EU states, our plans and steps should be commensurate with the drains of negative consequences and impressions.
The political cooperation-consultation of the political parties for the construction of a national strategy, with stability and endurance over time, is now an urgent need.
We are at a crossroads and therefore our steps must be carefully planned, because otherwise the results will not be reversible.
In this context, we should focus on an issue that is an important part of national defense policy, but has been treated with complete indifference by the state in recent years.
It concerns the lack of policy and consequently the devaluation of the domestic Defense Industry, public and private, which have already become, due to the avoidance of decision-making with a sustainable perspective, problematic and harmful.
Need for strategic planning
The indifference of the Greek state in such a sensitive area is criminal.
For years, the responsibility for the decision to reorganize and modernize the state defense industry has been circulating between the Ministries of Development, Defense and Finance, to no avail.
In no modern European country does one ministry shift responsibility to another at the expense of the viability of industry.
The perpetuation of this situation deprives important services and defense equipment to strengthen the defense power of our country, in this critical period.
There are some key elements that determine reality and we must take them into account:
- The lack of a common European defense and security policy,
- The geographical location of our country next to an aggressive neighbor,
- the emerging EU foreign policy, depending on the interests of its powerful states,
- The economic and defense power of Greece,
- Our geostrategic position,
- The unstable and changeable security environment with the known disturbances in our area,
- Diplomatic and military alliances,
- Lack of equipment and support, which may arise at a critical time from construction companies in countries that may cut off supply.
Therefore, we are confidently concluding that our country must, through strategic planning, draw up a consolidation program for the sustainable perspective and development of a strong defense industry, public and private.
Premises and infrastructure are available as well as highly qualified, experienced and resourceful Greek scientific staff to support the required actions.
In recent years, many private defense companies of the Association of Greek Defense Manufacturers (SEKPY), have built high-tech products and security systems, competitive in the global market and useful to support the defense needs of our country.
Need for a new institution
In order to implement these and many other useful things in this direction, an institution must be created in the Greek Ministry of National Defense with important responsibilities in order to formulate policies and take decisions for the domestic Defense Industry.
This institution, at the level of the Undersecretary or the General Secretariat of the Defense Industry, Research and Technology, will develop policies and will decide:
A. For the orientation of the Defense Industry, mainly the state one, based on the crucial question whether it will cover the needs for the defense of the country or will it be extroverted and develop collaborations with industries of European and third countries.
B. For the reorganization and modernization of the existing defense industry through consolidation programs and financing of targeted investment projects.
In this context, it will prepare a program to support the shipbuilding industry and upgrade it to a strong unit in the wider region.
C. To determine the equipment needs of the armed forces and the elaboration of corresponding armament programs.
D. For the elaboration of programs to create new production lines of technologically advanced products and security systems and the development of intelligent information systems applications.
Preparation of studies
E. To establish a center for studies, research and innovation with the aim of participating in European programs for the development of innovative products and applications in the field of defense research through the European Defense Fund (EDF).
F. For the conclusion of cooperation agreements, for research and studies of defense interest with Greek universities and universities of other countries, as well as research and technological centers and institutes.
G. To take initiatives to create an environment for collaborative action between the private and state defense industries.
H. To record the needs of the defense sector, so that in every supply of defense equipment, the compensatory benefits are accompanied by know-how and co-productions of parts of defense products.
I. For the elaboration of studies aiming at the rationalization of the finances of the Defense Industry.
From the lines of the Defense budget, the percentage that covers the operating expenses amounts to 70 to 80 percent. This means that the scope for defense investment and support for existing equipment is minimal.
J. To redefine and modernize the institutional framework in the direction of exploiting the opportunities provided by the European institutional framework to support the domestic defense industry.
It is an opportunity to draw up a plan with all the modern fields of action implemented, developed and perfected by European industries.
The current critical situation can be turned into an opportunity, if a well-thought-out plan for restructuring, reforms, financing of investments and assignment of defense actions is prepared.
This will mark a new beginning, not only for the rescue, but also for the sustainable perspective of the Defense Industry. In any case, as an EU member we should seize the opportunities for cooperation on many issues with the European defense industry.
Indeed, as the European defense industry has made leaps and bounds, cooperation is needed, both through bilateral industry agreements and through the EDF-funded European Industrial Development Program (EDIDP).
Through this program, the domestic defense industries will gain, in addition to financing, know-how, strengthened ties, access to new market networks and a climate of confidence for future plans.
Based on the above, if we really want the Defense Industry to be an important arm of our country’s defense power, the necessary resources for its consolidation and sustainable perspective must finally be allocated, through the announced armament program.
Panos Tryfiatis was a Navy Officer and served as Chief Executive Officer at Hellenic Defense Systems and Director at the Center for Security Studies.