Nikos Panagiotopoulos attended the Skyros 2021 exercise at Tanagra Airbase and made a speech alongside the head of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, Konstantinos Floros.
“Over time, we have established with France a stable and constantly developing military cooperation framework with which we ensure, strengthening and consolidating, a safer geopolitical environment in our region,” Panagiotopoulos said.
Panagiotopoulos stressed the importance of exercises involving the Greek and French Air Force, Navy and special forces.
The minister described the exercise as “a great opportunity for the two countries to become closer and develop interoperability, in addition to sending a clear message of our deterrent power.”
“It is an opportunity for the Air Forces of the two countries to promote mutual cooperation in an environment of multiple threats by upgrading the quality of their training,” Panagiotopoulos said.
“In addition it allows us to maintain the availability of our crews in complex missions between them and supply aircraft in the air,” he added.
He stressed that from the Tanagra Airbase, the first Greek Rafale fighter jets will begin operating in a few months time.
“With today’s exercise, our pilots get a taste of the capabilities of the new aircraft, the supply of which was recently agreed and approved by the Greek Parliament,” underlined Panagiotopoulos.
“Our joint effort,” he said, adding that it “has brought significant achievements and I am grateful that the opportunity has been given once again to watch the Armed Forces of the two countries develop in parallel.”
The minister highlighted the “excellent operational skills and the high level of training” that gives Greek and French pilots “readiness to face security challenges in our region.”
Panagiotopoulos pointed out that “Greece has recently received multiple threats, and is called upon to face them daily.”
“France and Greece together promote mutual co-operation, acting at the same time as decisive factors of stability and security in the Eastern Mediterranean on the basis of international law,” he continued.
In addition to the Minister of National Defense, the exercise was attended by General Floros, Rear Admiral Georgios Blioumis, a Commander of the French Air Force, and Greek and French journalists .
Attendees had the opportunity to watch part of the impressive exercise, with Greek and French air force planes taking off and flying in joint formations.
Panagiotopoulos and Floros boarded a grounded French Rafale and talked to the French pilots.
In his greeting, Floros welcomed the French delegation to the Tanagra Airbase and described Greece and France as close allies.
“We have excellent results from the Skyros exercise,” Floros said.
He described the event as an important opportunity “to see Rafale up close” as Greece can draw “useful conclusions for the aircraft, which will soon be operational by the Greek Armed Forces”.
“Greek-French relations are excellent,” he said, adding that there was a “common will for further strengthening.”
The General also pointed out that Greece is “the first European country to acquire Rafale,” something that “multiplies our power.”
“The aircraft and its weapons are a memorable addition for the Armed Forces” and will allow us to “continue to promote stability in our region,” he added.