The geostrategic problems that emerged in the 20th century remain open. Historical, ethnic, religious, cultural, racial, energy, and food conflicts evolve and reproduce. The regional security conditions, as they have developed, both conventional and nonconventional threats (asymmetric or hybrid), coexist and pose a threat to our national security, considering Greece is surrounded by areas of instability.
The bigger challenge to our security is the dispute of our sovereign rights that derive from the international law, which is expressed with a series of political and military actions. The nonconventional threats are essentially transnational and emanate mainly from international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, organized crime and cyberattacks. The foreseeable rapid developments in technology as well as the movement of populations are expected to increase the intensity of nonconventional threats.
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The coexistence of all those threats in our geographical environment requires Greece to be more alert in the field of security, in comparison with the other European Union member countries.
To confront these threats, Greece forms the national security which constitutes the resultant of diplomatic, economic, military, cultural, technological and industrial capabilities of the country. Furthermore, the Hellenic Armed Forces are kept in a high level of effectiveness and operational readiness to counter external military threats against national security interests.
An important factor for the operational readiness of the Hellenic Armed Forces is security of supply.
In the complex environment of modern weapon systems, where supply chains are characterized by technological complexity, global spread and a large number of companies, individual countries cannot ensure full autonomy in the field of security of supply by local sources — regardless of their capabilities.
Consequently, Greece aims to develop and maintain a defense technological and industrial base, in critical areas, capable of supporting the requirements of the Hellenic Armed Forces with products and services in crisis or war, assuring in this way the vital national interests of the country.
Moreover, by strengthening its domestic, defense technological and industrial base, Greece intends to contribute to the EU's efforts to develop a strong and competitive European Defense Technological and Industrial Base and to NATO's security of supply.
The Greek defense industry has been developed after 1974. Today, it consists of larger state enterprises and several smaller private businesses that are subcontractors to major international defense manufacturers, and they are involved in a wide range of production activities.
Despite the fact that Greece was one of the biggest importers of defense equipment in the last decade, Greek defense industry focused primarily on the domestic market.
But the recent politico-economical and technological developments have created an entirely new environment for the defense industry. Technology in defense and security changes rapidly. National defense budgets have been reduced and international competition has become fiercer. Very few companies are now able to rely solely on their domestic markets.
The prolonged economic crisis in Greece has lead to significant reduction of our defense spending. Hence the in-country opportunities for the domestic defense industry are limited. Furthermore, our current legal framework for the procurements in defense and security, that adopts Directive 2009/81/EC, does not favor the development of the domestic defense industry.
The Hellenic Ministry of Defence (HMoD), in order to maintain and develop the domestic defense technological and industrial base in critical areas for national security, drafted a National Defense Industrial Strategy that takes into account existing threats, the requirements of the Hellenic Armed Forces, the international technological developments in the field of defense and security, the security environment and the global defense spending, the market trends, the status of the domestic defense technological and industrial base, the European and national legal framework, and the EU policy in the field of the European defense industry and market.
This National Defense Industrial Strategy draft foresees actions by HMoD that will assist the domestic, defense technological and industrial base. Such actions are:
- Planning the procurements well ahead, briefing the domestic, defense technological and industrial base on the requirements of the HMoD, enhancing the cooperation between all parties involved, seeking the participation of domestic, defense technological and industrial base in all phases of the life cycle of HMoD’s defense equipment.
- Assisting defense exports by promoting the products and capabilities of the domestic defense industry as well as by urging the domestic defense industry to seek international cooperation and be export-oriented.
- Strengthening research and innovation by issuing a Defense Research and Technology Development Program according to the needs of the Hellenic Armed Forces.
- Informing small- and medium-sized enterprises, which make up the bulk of the domestic defense industry, about EU business and funding opportunities and supporting them in the EU pertinent authorities.
- Urging and assisting the domestic, defense technological and industrial base to expand its activities in security, dual-use and relative non-defense products.
- Examining a review of the legal framework for defense procurements in order to enhance speed, transparency, flexibility, effectiveness and efficiency of HMoD’s procurement procedures and in order to introduce the principle of domestic industrial participation, as far as the EU legal framework permits.
- Defining further the procurement strategy for the Hellenic Armed Forces to procure defense equipment according to their specifications, on time and at the right cost, and to maintain the availability and the operational readiness of these equipment throughout their life cycle to the desired level with the lower cost, while safeguarding the role of the domestic defense industry in the protection of the essential national security interests..
- A dual-strategic partnership that both converts domestic state-owned and private industries from competitive to cooperative and also prompts the Greek defense industry to have a better role in the division of the European and the global defense industry, in the logic of complementarity and non-overlapping.
- Especially we focus on the stability and the geostrategic position of the country, which helps produce many opportunities, and at the areas of the repairs and the systems upgrades to serve a wide arc of allied and partner countries.
The Greek Ministry of Defence, in its effort to create an export-oriented and competitive, domestic, defense technological and industrial base that will support the Hellenic Armed Forces with critical items and services in crisis, seeks the assistance and participation of all the possible actors and, in particular, of the domestic defense industry. The domestic defense industry will have to forget past practices, and it is required to invest in the development and production of technologically advanced products that have international demand in order to increase its exports and seek business opportunities and partnerships overseas.
Dimitris Vitsas is the a
lternate minister of national defense for Greece.