22 May, 2003
Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Wednesday stressed the need for speeding up procedures regarding the completion of European unification in the defense and security sectors.
Papantoniou, making an account of the 12-month Greek presidency in the sector of European security and defense policy, said Europe must obtain reliability and the necessary special weight to enable it to intervene in international developments more substantively.
Papantoniou focused on the creation of the European military force composed of 60,000 men and women. According to conclusions reached at the recent Council of Defense Ministers, the 25-nation European Union currently possesses the operational capacity to carry out humanitarian and peace missions.
He also reiterated that the initiative of the ''four'' (France, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg) does not constitute an independent action, but a contribution by them to the collective effort for a common European defense. He further clarified that the European defense does not function competitively towards the United States, but in a balancing nature on the international scene.
Regarding the coverage of shortages in weapons systems, Papantoniou placed emphasis on the procurement of systems for strategic transportation, meaning the acquisition of transport aircraft.
Commenting on the upsurge of Turkish aggressiveness and the insistence of Turkey's military establishment on illegal unilateral claims against Greece, Papantoniou said the Helsinki summit is a one-way road as far as Greece is concerned, with the hope that there will be reciprocity at some time.
On Iraq he added that Europe's initiatives will touch on humanitarian aid.
Source: Athens News Agency