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27 May 27 May 2014

22nd International Annual Symposium: “European Defence, NATO and EU: The Challenges Ahead”

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The President of the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation (GAAEC), Mr. Theodossis Georgiou, opened the Symposium by welcoming the speakers and introducing the audience to the work of the Eurodefense Network. Mr. Georgiou, among others, pointed out that “Europeans do not really care whether it’s EU or NATO that provides security and defense for them as long as they feel safe and secure”.


He continued by saying that “effectiveness is hence the most important criterion on NATO-EU cooperation. And effectiveness depends on political leadership, an efficient and flexible decision-making process and resources that can be mobilized for the sake of common actions. Therefore whenever we debate the EU-NATO relationship we should accept the premise that Europe, and indeed the whole transatlantic area, needs both organizations […] […] Today we are far from the time when questions “ESDP and NATO are companions are competitors” but we need to define the rules of the game.

The ESDP-NATO relationship must not be allowed to be a pretext for collective paralysis, both inside the EU and in NATO. On the contrary, increasing overlap between the European memberships in both structures should allow for more effective and dynamic cooperation [...]

“The ESDP-NATO-EU relations, Europe-US relations need the public support. Public support provides the legitimacy, which matters as much as power does.”

Th. Georgiou

The ESDP-NATO-EU relations, Europe-US relations need the public support. Public support provides the legitimacy which matters as much as power does. And everyone knows that public support requires an educated public and educated public means that they understand the reason of all those prospects of cooperation and how they affect their lives”.

Mrs. Despina Afentouli, Information Officer for Greece at NATO PDD, affirmed in her remarks that the security environment in Europe has changed since March, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, putting at the center of the debate what CSDP should be about.  Then, she revealed NATO’s agenda for Wales Summit in 2014, where Foreign Ministers will go through several defense aspects, such as collective defense, the effort to fill critical capabilities’ gap and interoperability between NATO and the EU.

These being said, she passed the floor to Mr. Ioannis Panagiotopoulos, Secretary General of Mass Media, who stated that, for an effective CSDP, intelligence, open consultations and the development of dialogue on defense matters are critical. He also mentioned the special role that NATO plays in the field of protection of human rights.

Mr. Konstantinos Tsiaras, President of the National Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee, reaffirmed the great importance and impact of the arc of instability (from Ukraine to the coasts of Northern Africa) on trade, energy supply routes, tourism and on sustained development. He also presented some of the conclusions of the recent FAC meeting in Brussels regarding the situation in Ukraine, saying that Ms. Catherine Ashton, the EU’s HR for Foreign Affairs and Defence Policy, expressed herself being in favor of political and financial solutions for the Ukrainian crisis and that for this to be achieved, the EU should start exercising diplomatic and financial pressures on Russia.

“In order to meet the challenges both near and far, America needs a strong Europe and Europe needs strong America”

D.D. Pearce

Following the opening address by Mr. Tsiaras, GAAEC had a great privilege of welcoming the U.S. Ambassador to Greece, H.E. David D. Pearce. In his speech, the Ambassador referred to the crisis in Crimea, and in relation to the security of the whole Europe, he explicitly noted that “borders of Europe were settled, nations determined their own future” and that “we now see a clear challenge to the post-war order”. Mr. Pearce also clarified that turning inward is not an option for the U.S.A. thus the Alliance should look beyond 2014 and prepare for future challenges to international peace. To that direction, keeping alliances in good repair, improving partnerships and interoperability is of U.S. greatest priorities, along with reshaping U.S. forces aiming to a properly sized, balanced and flexible force. Moreover, the Ambassador mentioned the importance of commerce and “mutual economic string” between Europe and the U.S.A.; “in order to meet the challenges both near and far, America needs a strong Europe and Europe needs strong America”. The Ambassador concluded his speech referring to the Greece-U.S. relations and to the indisputable fact that the latter treats Greece as a precious ally and stability factor in Southeastern Europe and in the region of eastern Mediterranean.

Mr. Andreas Lykourentzos, Member of the Hellenic Parliament, former Minister of Health and former Vice Minister of Education, chaired the “NATO-EU: A Strategic Partnership?” section of the Symposium and before giving the floor to the first speaker, Mr. Fasslabend, he thanked for the EU countries’ support for Greece to overcome it’s deep economic crisis. Moreover, Lykourentzos expresses his deep wish for Ukraine and Russia to end the crisis between the two nations and highlighted that education is one of the pivotal aspects in promoting security.

“If there will be no reaction, there will be a re-reaction”

W. Fasslabend

Mr. Werner Fasslabend, former Minister of Defense and President of Institute for European Security Policy,gave a thorough presentation on the regions of the highest crisis potential and nuclear proliferation and highlighted China’s growing importance and strength around the world. In the context of Russia, he presented his view on Russian’s clear change of strategy since 2008 and that there is a need of the EU’s clear response, because “if there will be no reaction, there will be a re-reaction”, as Mr. Fasslabend said. Moreover, he spoke about permanent defense structures within the EU, a subject upon which the next speaker, Mr. Alexios Marios Lyberopoulos, Director at Directorate for Common Foreign and Security Policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also commented. Speaking from the perspective of an expert from the Common Security Defense Policy of the EU, Mr. Lyberopoulos stressed the need for practical, pragmatic approach to common security initiatives and tasks as well as noted that “it’s not only a matter of leadership, but it’s also about developing a culture” as, according to him, the EU needs a whole CSDP culture, not only an expert, to realize the concepts and necessities and move forward within the security domain.

Following the remarks by Mr. Lyberopoulos, Ms.Nataliya Sirenko, First Secretary in the Embassy of Ukraine, read out an intervention by the Ukrainian Ambassador to Greece, H.E. Volodymyr Shkurov. In the context of Ukrainian security, the Ambassador stressed “Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea”, “separatists moods in the Eastern and Southern Ukraine”, and “Russia’s heavy military presence” along the Ukrainian borders. Moreover, H.E. Shkurov expressed his belief that the EU plays a key role as a stability and security factor both on a regional as well as global level and highlighted Ukraine – NATO cooperation and that NATO membership is one of Ukraine’s official foreign policy objectives. Concluding, the Ambassador noted that “today’s Ukraine is the new frontier to all people of good will”, and that Ukraine chooses and wants to be a true European democratic country.

Mr. Konstantinos Mazarakis - Ainian, retired Vice Admiral and Honorary Commander in Chief of the Hellenic Fleet, chaired the session on smart defense and pooling and sharing concepts, clarifying that both terms were initiated for the same reason: to improve national military capabilities through enhanced multilateral cooperation in the times of economic crisis. Mr. Mazarakis’ provided the audience with some interesting food for thought: can the framework nation concept bridge the defence capabilities’ gap between the US and the EU? Are the EU member states ready to commit to a serious loss of freedom as provided by the CSDP concept? To what extend do European governments expect to promote integration and consolidation of the European defense capabilities through these defense concepts?

“Most European countries know that they have to depend on allies for their defense.”

J.P. Perruche

Then, the floor was given to Mr. George Kampas, Mayor General and Director of the D’ Branch of the Hellenic Army, who highlighted the most pressing issues to be resolved as far as the CSDP is concerned and these are: reinforcement of operational capabilities and strengthening interoperability between EU and NATO; avoidance of duplication between the two organizations; promotion of the CSDP despite the public’s mistrust originated from the economic crisis; enhancing the EU-NATO cooperation on the R&D sector; moving forward the comprehensive approach within the EU; making operational EU Battle groups. Finally, alluding to the Ukrainian crisis, he said that a way should be found to legitimate the international institutions and that this could be done through industrial and defense policies.

Mr. Jean Paul Perruche, retired Lieutenant General and former Director General of EU Military Staff, gave the audience an overview of the problematic of Smart Defense (Pooling and Sharing), and referred to three main aspects: political, economic and operational. He called for a “coherent political strategy” and cooperation between European nations in pooling and sharing defense assets, as these are political decisions and “most European countries know that they have to depend on allies for their defense”.

Mr. Willy Herteleer, retired Admiral and Chief of General Staff, presented his view on defense strategy of NATO and the EU and noted that “the strategy of NATO should be combined and the defense strategy of the EU should be comprehensive, using all elements of power that a state of a collection of states have”. Comprehensive strategy, according to Mr. Herteleer, is more than just military and it involves a plan for Europe to be gas-independent, applying deterrence actions, establishing real reaction forces and strategic capabilities. All this has to be done in Europe soon, because “history is full of examples of missed occasions, of too late reactions, of too costly wars,” Mr. Herteleer noted.

It goes without saying that the ongoing crisis in Ukraine has a considerable impact on the energy supplies from Russia to Europe, since the latter depends by 24% on Russia for gas and half of it passes through Ukraine. With that in mind, we passed to the next session on “Security and Stability of Energy Resources and Pipeline Transport”, chaired by Mr. Dimitris Koutsogiorgas, economist and former MP of the Greek Parliament, who gave tangible solutions in the direction of reducing the EU’s vulnerability for gas supply from Russia, and these are as follows: enhancing the capacity to store gas; using other natural resources, as coal, renewable or even oil, without excluding the option of liquefied natural gas; resolving the EU countries’ difficulty at distributing the gas capacity and restoring interconnection among them in times of need and crisis; supplying Europe with Russian gas but by passing Ukraine, using the Nord Stream pipeline and the South Stream project; looking for other gas sources as TAP pipeline and Trans Adriatic pipeline; raising global consciousness about energy conservation in order to secure energy supply.

Subsequently, Mr. Konstantinos Moussouroulis, Member of Hellenic Parliament for Chios Island and former Minister of Merchant Marine, took the floor and explained how the current energy model that Europe uses is not working, since it is costly, energy consuming, polluting and deficient as well. He indicated that the solution to this complication should focus on the energy market liberalization process and the diversification of energy sources, suppliers and energy routes. Otherwise, in 2050 there will be no Europe of energy capable of fulfilling its goals and provide its citizens with security and prosperity.

To the direction of a more energy-efficient Europe, Mr. Dimitris Manolis, Deputy Division Head in the Public Gas Corporation of Greece (DEPA S.A.), pointed out that development in Europe has been reached but only accompanied with a high social cost. To his eyes, this could only change by making the European energy market even more liberal, which would result to enhance its competitiveness. To this end, DEPA’s involvement in Southeastern Europe by co-constructing three main projects (the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria pipeline; the Aegean LNG terminal; and the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline) will be profitable not only for Southeastern Europe countries but for Europe itself, since these projects are considered by the European Commission as PCIs (Projects of Common Interest).

Mr. LiviuMuresan, Executive President of the European Institute for Risk, Security and Communication Management (EURISC), talked about the importance of climate change and the complexity of energy sources and how that will affect security strategy around the world.

Mr. Federico Yaniz, retired General of Aviation, drew the audience’s attention to the uprisings in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) and what a direct effect they have on Europe (illegal immigration, terrorism, new geopolitical order).

Mr. Dieter Ose, former Civil Servant at the Ministry of Defense, chairing a session on public opinion, noted that “public opinion and its deep essence are based in the history and the culture of each single country,” while Mr. Robin Ashby, Director General of UK Defense Forum, stressed that “public opinion needs to be educated on the importance of military capabilities to support political choices. An informed populace enables politicians to offer leadership”. Ms. Maria Karaklioumi’s, quantitative researcher and Vice Governor of Attica region,remarks dealt with a need for more public debate in Greece about public institutions and a necessity to educate citizens about the fact that “apart from having advantages of being a member of international institutions, we also have obligations”. Mrs. Aliki Mitsakos, Dean of the International Center for Leading Studies, closed the Symposium with her remarks on the importance of the media, especially among the young generation, and that “security” and “defense” are not just military terms, but they have “a broader meaning – they touch human existence”. She specifically underlined the fact that the human factor should be taken into account in all discussions on defense and she explicitly put an emphasis on the dimension of human security. Any issues of energy security, climate change and national security, as well as the aftermath are all interconnected.

“Security” and “defense” are not just military terms, but they have “a broader meaning – they touch human existence”

A. Mitsakos

During the Symposium, divergences and convergences among the speakers, the students and the audience followed and, through discussion, different aspects of the European CSDP were commented upon. Different topics were raised concentrating mostly on CSDP’s credibility and the European arms industry; the pooling and sharing’s perspectives along with the possibility of a defense policy implementation appropriate to support the SMIs.

Mr. Georgiou , in his conclusion, highlighted the crucial points made in the margins of the Symposium and as far as the critical situation in Ukraine is concerned, he stated that “there is a need to send a very strong message; a message of solidarity sent from our members of the Eurodefense Network and from our similar NGOs in Ukraine and the rest of Europe”.

He continued by saying “Our policy and the policy of NATO and EU members must be, on the one hand, a policy of principles based on international law and respect to the territorial integrity of states and, eventually, on the existing borders. On the other hand, we need to keep the channels of political and diplomatic dialogue with Russia open”.

Conference Program

More information on Eurodefense can be found here

Bata Athina

MSc International Relations and Defense Policy, University of Toulouse 1, Capitole

Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation

Ratajczak Awa

MA American Studies, Cultural Studies of the U.S., University of Warsaw

Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation

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