Defence Minister Dendias Warns Populism Threatens Europe's Future


National Defence Minister Nikos Dendias has expressed concerns about the rise of right-wing and left-wing populism in Europe, warning that it could derail the continent's progress.

In an interview with Thessaloniki STATUS radio ahead of the June 9 European Parliament elections, Dendias highlighted the numerous threats and crucial choices facing Europe.

Dendias criticised populist forces for posing legitimate questions but offering misleading answers, which he believes divert political dialogue in the wrong direction. He attributed some responsibility to traditional politics, stating that existing weaknesses and failures of established parties have been exploited by these populist trends.

Despite the challenges, Dendias expressed pride in Europe, describing it as the most advanced example of state cooperation in history. However, he acknowledged the dangers facing Europe, citing the hypothetical scenario of a far-right president in France as a significant risk. He contrasted this with Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni, noting that while she used certain arguments to get elected, she governs more like a centrist Christian Democrat with strong European positions, especially on defence.

Dendias predicted developments towards a common European defence due to an emerging "perception of danger," particularly concerning Russia and the invasion of Ukraine. He emphasised the importance of moving in this direction, though he tempered expectations about immediate progress.

Greece is actively participating in several initiatives with Germany, France, and Poland to enhance European defence. Dendias highlighted the Greek Prime Minister's collaboration with his Polish counterpart to create a common European air defense system, which would include an anti-aircraft protective dome over Europe.

The minister reiterated Greece's firm stance on foreign border protection following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, emphasising the importance of adhering to United Nations Charter principles. He rejected any notion of legitimisding invasions, stating it would undermine Greece's fundamental principles.

Addressing criticism of high defence spending, Dendias argued that Greece's defences are necessary to ensure respect from Turkey. He stressed that no weapon systems have been removed without suitable replacements and noted that arms sent to Ukraine were sold to the United States and the Czech Republic, helping to maintain Greece's defence systems.

Regarding Greece's involvement in the "ASPIDES" operation in the Red Sea, Dendias praised the mission for increasing Greece's political weight and respect in the region, providing practical experience for Greek crews, and protecting economic interests. He acknowledged the risks faced by the crew of the Hydra frigate, emphasising their professional commitment to defending Hellenism, even at the risk of their lives.

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