Greek defence minister addresses issues of Greek armed forces in missions abroad

The involvement of the Greek Armed Forces abroad is related to the country’s obligations and rights from its participation in NATO-led alliances, National Defense Minister N. Panagiotopoulos said in answer to a timely question in Parliament by MEP25 MP Sofia Sakorafa on the mission of a Greek Patriot contingent to Saudi Arabia, sending troops to Mali, Africa and requesting frigates to be sent to the Strait of Hormuz.

As stated by Mr. Panagiotopoulos, the mission of the Patriot contingent does not affect the anti-aircraft coverage of Greece, moreover, one of our batteries that was damaged, repaired and added to our anti-aircraft umbrella. He underlined that Saudi Arabia is a country with which we discover common geopolitical and geo-strategic interests in our region.

On the mission to Mali, “in an area potentially dangerous for the development of radical fundamentalist movements”, the Minister of National Defense said that it included two Army officers by May 2020, and it was an EU educational mission. He added that the mission was approved by the previous government and has the restriction that our staff will not be deployed in high-risk areas. There are proposals to deploy other forces but no positive decision has been made on this, as he pointed out.

As for the Strait of Hormuz, Mr. Panagiotopoulos assured us that we would not deploy any Navy units there. “I have made it clear to my NATO counterparts that the Greek ships are so busy in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean that there is no availability of Greek vessels,” he said.

For her part, Ms Sacorafa stressed that these missions deviate from our standard policy of sending forces to sea or medical units in the context of UN decisions. For the first time, we are sending combat forces outside the UN framework, the MEP said, expressing concern that we are engaging in foreign adventures and creating new enemies.