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I am not sure if we have entered a new phase (s.b. in Greek-Turkish relations). To say that we are indeed in a new phase, I would like to see some evidence of permanence. But we are certainly dealing with a change of scenery due to the extremely destructive earthquakes and the consequent emphasis now given by the government of Turkey to face the problems from the earthquake”, observed the Minister of National Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, in a televised interview with ET1.

Responding to a question about the violations of the national airspace by Turkish aircraft, Mr. Panagiotopoulos informed that from the beginning of the year until February 5, there had been slightly more than 1,000 violations of the national airspace by various means and from 6 to 8 p.m. February, they fell to around 100 while we have not a single entry of a Turkish fighter, armed or unarmed. We mainly enter airspace with unmanned or reconnaissance aircraft.

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So the situation has indeed improved there. I hope he keeps this atmosphere. I do not take it for granted that it will last, but for now the neighbor has other problems very serious, he repeated.

Regarding the possibility of resuming the dialogue on confidence-building measures between the two countries, the Minister of National Defense, after reminding that Greece has never closed the door to dialogue with Turkey, reiterated that the dialogue cannot take place under the state of threats or of extreme and aggressive rhetoric, but also of acts of questioning.

The Minister of National Defense announced that he may inform the competent committee of the Parliament’s Equipment Affairs before the announcement of the elections, about the cost of the F-35 acquisition program, if he has the relevant data. Also, the response to the relevant Greek request is expected from the competent agency of the American government in April or May. Negotiations will follow on the technical and special terms and according to estimates the first aircraft will be delivered if everything goes smoothly, in 2028.

Regarding the corvette acquisition program for which proposals have been submitted by France and Italy, the Minister of National Defense commented that both proposals are proposals that fully satisfy the Navy, the specifications it has set, the needs it seeks to cover and “the final will be decided in the details”. At the same time, he made it clear that “but we want the direct involvement of the shipbuilding industry” in the program in question, clarifying that both shipyards will claim the construction of these ships but the investment efforts that have started in them so that they can undertake a shipbuilding project of this scope.

Regarding the possibility of sending the S-300 to Ukraine, Mr. Panagiotopoulos made it clear again that we cannot do it in any way by weakening our defense arrangement. The S-300 is where it’s at. They were bought and came to Greece the way they did for specific reasons and as long as these reasons exist we are not going to consent to any weakening of our defense arrangement.

At the same time, he clarified that the support of the Russian systems is becoming more and more difficult. If we reach a point where it is impossible to support these systems we will either solve the problem of supporting it or replace them. We haven’t reached that point yet.

The Minister of National Defense rejected the objections of the official opposition that it is a national crime that out of the approximately 14 billion for the armament programs, not a single euro has gone to the ODA. I will claim he said that a national crime was the discrediting of the national defense over the years and what we found when we received and referred to the participation of the Greek defense industry in the ongoing armaments programs.

Regarding the maintenance of the C-130 aircraft, Mr. Panagiotopoulos commented that their overuse for other jobs will also cause damage and increased maintenance needs. We are looking at every alternative to increase availability. It is estimated that it will be 4 by the end of the year.

Finally, he characterized as the most strategic project the creation of the international training center for the Icarians of our Air Force, given that with the upgrading of this base in terms of means, personnel, ground capabilities and infrastructure, the possibility of training the Icarians is now skyrocketing. And this is the future of our Air Force with F-35s and everything else.