Title: Greece. White Paper for the Armed Forces - Chapter 1
CHAPTER 1: GREECE IN THE NEW ERA
1. THE GEOSTRATEGIC POSITION OF GREECE
Geography and history have placed Greece at a critical geopolitical area, amid Europe, Asia and Africa. Greece, situated at a crossroads between East and West, North and South, in the Eastern Mediterranean, a sea area of enormous strategic and economic importance, occupies a critical geographic position, as it is surrounded by hot spots of tension and conflicts.
The distinctive geographic formation of the Hellenic territory, which comprises the mainland - mainly mountainous, with an extended coastline and countless natural harbours and bays, as well as a great number of islands and islets dispersed all over the Hellenic seas (3,012 islands and rocky islets and over 15,000 kms of coastline), lends Greece an exceptional geostrategic character, rendering it as the Europe's gate to Asia and Africa. The double grounding of the Hellenic State reflects the continuous historic Hellenic presence in this particular geographic area, which also consists the cradle of the Hellenic nation and civilization. Furthermore, the unity of the mainland and the insular complex reflects the distinct geostrategic importance of the Hellenic territory, but as well as the special security requirements of Greece.
From a geostrategic point of view, the Aegean Sea with its Hellenic insular complex, exercises control over the sea lines of communication from and to the Black Sea. From the point of view of national security, the Hellenic mainland and the insular complex form an integrated defence area, as it provides, according to the direction of the threat, the required strategic depth which serves the security needs of Greece. The existence of international waters within the Aegean Sea creates specific security requirements for national defence which render the ensuring of unhindered air and sea communications between the mainland and insular Greece of vital importance.
The island of Crete, with its naval and air facilities as well as its central position in the eastern Mediterranean basin, offers itself as an exceptional base for air and naval operations to all directions (perimetrically), as well as for the control of the sea and air lines of communication to and from the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East.
2. THE NEW INTERNATIONAL ORDER
The wide-ranging changes of the past few years, especially the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, led to the transformation of the international political system. mankind got rid of, at least temporarily, the horror of a nuclear holocaust. however, new risks appeared replacing the old ones. The international security system is in a state of flux.The old interrelations were not replaced by a new world order, but by a general confusion.
Fluctuation, instability and insecurity, both in the European system and the international political setting, were caused by the changes in the status quo, in 1989. Nationalist aspirations appearing all over Europe, especially in the Balkans, further intensify the regional and international security problems. The general picture of insecurity and instability is complemented by the appearance of a series of new risks and challenges in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
(see map 1)
(see map 2)
The time has come for a world of stability and cooperation, for a common security system embracing all Europe, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Urals. Approaching the threshold of the 21st century, we need to redefine the relations and cooperation structures of the European countries in regard to security matters, in order to successfully address issues concerning:
- the internal adaptation of NATO (new command structure)
- the external adaptation of the Alliance
- the evolving relationship with Russia, Ukraine and the other countries of the Partnership for Peace (PfP) Programme
- the Western European Unions (WEU) role
- the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) new role.
Today, the most important developments in security matters in Europe are based on the fact that NATO changes, adapts to the new situation, adopts a new strategy, reorganises its command system and changes the structure of forces within the Alliance, creating multinational rapid reaction forces in order to improve its collective defence capability and its participation in crises management.
NATO, confronting the challenges of the new post-cold war international system, is moving forward with radical restructuring of its strategic goals, structures and operation. It aims to transform from a collective defence (military) organisation to a political, diplomatic and, at the same time, military organisation, mainly concerned with peace keeping in a wide geographic area, beyond the traditional region of responsibility of the Alliance. NATO generally promotes stability in Europe through the Euro Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and the Partnership for Peace Programme (PfP).
Greece believes that the new Atlantic Treaty with its multiple capabilities and roles, aiming at gradually including all countries of Central and Eastern Europe, will constitute the guarantor for peace in the Balkans as well as in Europe, being the only reliable politico-military organization, able to fill the "security vacuum" created in the area by the collapse of the bipolar system. Based on this perspective, our country participates actively in all the procedures regarding NATO's transformation, the keystones being the development of a European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI), the establishment of an organisational structure for the implementation of the "Combined Joint Task Force" (CJTF) concept, the establishment of new headquarters and regional commands, as well as the promotion of PfP Programmes and the regional cooperation in the context of the EAPC, in a way that the existing regional balances are not upset by the structural reorganisation of the Alliance. Our country, persuaded that NATO's evolution serves security and peace in its wider area, aspires to become a "bridge" for the Southeast European countries, aiming at their smooth integration into the defensive system of the Alliance.
The new strategic goals of the North-Atlantic Treaty, concerning both its external and internal adaptation, were included in the Declaration of Madrid, that was adopted at the Summit Meeting of the leaders of NATO member-states on July 8-9, 1997. The basic principles of this declaration are as follows :
ON EURO-ATLANTIC SECURITY AND CO-OPERATION (JULY 8, 1997)
- We, the heads of NATO member-countries, have come together in Madrid in order to give shape to the new structure of the Alliance, as we move towards the 21st century.
- The North-Atlantic Alliance will be the driving force in the process of the emergence of a new Europe with greater cohesion and co-operation.
- We move towards the realisation of the vision of a just and lasting order of peace for Europe as a whole, based on human rights, freedom and democracy.
- While maintaining our core function of collective defence, we have adapted our political and military structures to improve our ability to meet new challenges of regional crises and conflict management.
- The Alliance will remain open to new members accession, under article 10 of the North-Atlantic Treaty. Today, we invite Hungary and Poland to begin accession talks. Our goal is to sign a relevant Protocol of Accession at the time of the Ministerial meetings, in December 1997, and conclude the ratification progress by the 50th anniversary of the Washington Treaty, in April 1999.
- Countries, which have previously expressed an interest in becoming NATO members, but were not invited to begin accession talks today, will remain under consideration for future membership. No European democratic country, whose admission would fulfil the objectives of the Treaty, will be excluded from the possibility of accession in the Alliance. As far as the future aspirants are concerned, we recognise and take into account the positive developments towards democracy and the rule of law in a number of south-eastern European countries, and especially in Romania and Slovenia. In 1999, we will review the expansion process.
- We adopt the decision taken in Sintra, concerning encouragement of the Partnership for Peace (PfP), strengthening, at the same time, the political dialogue and augmenting the role of the partners in decision making and planning for PfP.
- Through the new forum, that has been established, the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council, the two sides will consult, co-operate and, where appropriate, act together to address challenges to security in Europe.
- The Mediterranean region merits greater attention and emphasis, since the European security is closely connected with security and stability in the Mediterranean. We endorse the decision of establishing a new committee, the Mediterranean Co-operation Group, that under the aegis of the North-Atlantic Council, will have the overall responsibility for the Mediterranean Dialogue.
- We welcome the progress achieved concerning the Alliance's internal adaptation. Its fundamental objectives are to maintain the Alliance's military effectiveness and its capability to react to a wide range of contingencies, to preserve the transatlantic link and to develop the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI), by assigning NATO forces for operations of the Western European Union (WEU).
- The members of the Alliance welcomed Spain's announcement to fully participate in NATO's military section.
- We continue to attach utmost importance to the CFE Treaty.
- We reaffirm the importance of arrangements in the Alliance for consultation, on threats of a wider nature, including those against the security interests of NATO, as well as those linked to illegal arms trade and acts of terrorism.
At the same time, the Western European Union (WEU) is strengthened, whereas, the procedures are promoted in order to allow it become the defence branch of the European Union.
Greece participates in efforts to build up a European defence identity in the framework of the WEU, playing a positive role towards a gradual reorganisation of the WEU with its own strategy and objectives. Greece, at the same time, favours the maintenance of links between the WEU and NATO. To this end, it supports the designation of a framework of agreement concerning mutual support of these two organisations, in their perspective to maintain independence and the ability to decide and act independently, whenever required.
As far as the European Armaments Programme is concerned, Greece favours the establishment of an institutional body that will take over the co-ordination of the policy of the European countries in this area. Europe in the framework of the Maastricht treaties widens the concepts of defence and security from a national to a European level. The armaments programmes are common, so are the modernisation, support, and maintenance programmes. Common procedures for systems acquisition are examined covering all stages of the procurement cycle, from recognition of the requirement and determination of operational characteristics, to the implementation and provision of support, as well as a common exports policy.
Greece, due to its geopolitical position, has to maintain, at least until the establishment of a common European foreign affairs and defence policy, the status of national security and independence in critical armaments programmes. However, Greece actively participates in common programmes of research and technology, aiming at the development of cooperation among the European countries, as well as at the strengthening and modernisation of the European defensive technological infrastructure, so that the future requirements of the Armed Forces of the EU member-states can be met.
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3. THE ROLE OF GREECE IN THE BALKANS AND THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN
Both challenges and opportunities emerge for Greek national security due to developments in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean.
The challenges stem from the continuing fluctuation and instability at the triangle encompassing the Balkans, the Middle East and the Caucasus and from the strenuous international antagonism of the industrial countries in order to secure access to the natural resources of Central Asia.
On the other hand, the post-cold war international setting offers important possibilities of strengthening Greek security in relation to the central geopolitical position of Greece but also to the shift of the basic orientation of international politics from the relations between East-West to the relations between North-South. The focus of the international political system has shifted from Central Europe and the out-of-date conflict between east-West, to the perimeter of the European continent and especially to the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Greece and Cyprus consist critical factors in the formation of a stable regional security system. Within the next few years, our country can take advantage of its unique strategic position, in order to become a stabilizing factor in the areas of the Balkans, the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean as well as a vital link of those areas with Europe.
In the Balkan setting, the elements of economic uncertainty and political instability, as well as the problems caused by changes in the established order are still dominant factors and it will take a long time to be overcome. Greece's objective is to contribute to the establishment of conditions of stability and peace in the broader area that will allow us to play an active role in the overall development of the Balkan peninsula.
Greece, the only member of the European Union (EU), NATO and the Western European Union (WEU) in the area of the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, is both capable and willing to play a stabilizing role in the wider area. Through a series of bilateral defence cooperation and confidence building measures (CBMs) agreements with Balkan and other countries as well as with the promotion of PfP programmes and regional cooperation initiatives in the framework of EAPC, Greece makes an effort to contribute to the reduction of tension in the area, to the cut down of arms build ups and to the establishment of security and cooperation structures.
Greece promotes a series of political initiatives aiming at improving bilateral relations with its northern neighbours and promoting security and stability in the area.
Greece is unfortunately obliged to confront the challenges of a changing international environment, and at the same time, to face Turkey's policy against Greece and Cyprus.
The revisionist policy of Turkey towards Greece, as demonstrated in the Aegean, Cyprus, and Thrace, causes serious concern and is considered as the most significant threat against Greek security.
By disputing the legal sovereign rights of Greece, by violating its national territory, -almost on a daily basis- and by twisting the international law principles, Turkey aims at convincing the international community that there are serious differences between the two countries, with the aim of changing, through negotiations, the status quo in the area to Greece's disadvantage. Among Turkey's ambitions are the extension of its operational responsibility boundaries in the Aegean, within the NATO framework, the extension of its FIR westwards, the extension of the research and rescue boundaries, the changing of the territorial status quo in areas of the Aegean (a first step is the attempt to create "grey" zones) and the co-exploitation of the Continental Shelf. At the same time, it openly threatens Greece with war in case the latter decides to exercise its legal right (according to article 3 of the new Law of the Sea) to extend its territorial waters from 6 to 12 nautical miles. Turkey is clearly escalating a tension strategy, as shown by its provocations and claims concerning the Imia rock islets that brought the two countries on the brink of war, the unprecedented challenge of the Hellenic sovereignty of Gavdos (which Turkey was forced to withdraw because of Greek and international reactions) and of other islets and islands as well as the cold-blooded murders of civilians in Cyprus, in August 1996.