Cablegate: Das Bryza and Greek Defmin On Deepening Bilateral

Published: Wed 14 Sep 2005 11:59 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 002403
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/06/2015
Classified By: Ambassador Charles P. Ries for reasons 1.4(b) and (d)
1. (C) Summary. DAS Bryza with Greek DefMin Spiliotopoulos
discussed how to deepen bilateral military ties during a
September 7 meeting. Bryza praised the increased focus on
strategic concerns, such as promoting stability in Iraq,
Afghanistan, and the Balkans, and away from relatively minor,
day-to-day concerns. In this context, he emphasized the
importance of removing U.S.-origin weapons from Cyprus.
Spiliotopoulos said Greece was working to come into
compliance with U.S. law. Spiliotopoulos reviewed Greek
concerns about Turkish military activity over the Aegean.
End Summary.
Thinking Strategically
2. (C) DAS Matthew Bryza met with Greek Minister of Defense
Spilios Spiliotopoulos September 7 to review bilateral
military ties and promote a more strategic perspective to the
relationship. The U.S. and Greek governments were
increasingly focussed on broader issues of mutual concern,
Bryza said. He expressed appreciation for Greek assistance
in Afghanistan, where Greece recently assumed control of
ISAF's Role 2 medical facility in Kabul, and in Iraq, where
Greece was transporting Hungarian tanks and had donated BMPs
from its own stocks to help the Iraqi armed forces. He
encouraged Spiliotopoulos to continue this trend, including
by removing caveats on NATO missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
3. (C) Greece 'wants to live in a safe area' Spiliotopoulos
said, and so supported efforts to stabilize the Balkans and
Middle East. To that end, the Greek military was expanding
its contribution to Operation Active Endeavor and was doing
what it could do politically to help stabilize Iraq. He
updated Bryza on Greek efforts to be of assistance in
training Iraqi personnel, noting that Athens was still
waiting for a response from Baghdad to an offer to train
Iraqi medical personnel in Greek military hospitals.
Spiliotopoulos observed that the Greek offer to train Iraqi
security personnel in a third country had run into problems,
as Athens had been unable to find a suitable country willing
to act as host. Ambassador encouraged Spiliotopoulos to
consider the logical alternative of providing training at the
Greek PfP peacekeeping training facility in Kilkis (in
northern Greece), noting that the situation in Iraq had
changed signficantly since Greek PM had made his 'no training
in Iraq or Greece' pledge at the Istanbul NATO summit.
Responding to Bryza's query, Spiliotopoulos said Greece had
no present plans to take the lead on one of ISAF's PRTs in
Afghanistan. Greece's commitments to the medical unit,
engineering unit, and airport security in Kabul, along with a
650-person deployment to Kosovo, were already straining MOD
Procurement and Transformation
4. (C) Spiliotopoulos briefed Bryza on his efforts to
overhaul the Greek defense procurement system, as part of a
more general transformation of the Greek military. The
recent decision to buy 40 F-16s reflected a new way of
operating for the Greek military. Procurement decisions
would be based on requirements put forward by the various
Services, rather than on political factors, as it had been in
the past. This would streamline the system, and ensure -- as
was the case with the F-16s -- that Greece got better, more
standardized equipment at more attractive prices. On a
separate procurement issue, Spiliotopoulos said Greece
remained interested in two U.S. EDA minesweepers, noting that
the request had stalled in Congress.
Cyprus Arms Transfers
5. (C) Bryza turned to the related subject of Greek
transfers of U.S.-origin equipment to Cyprus, about which the
United States remained concerned and, if not resolved, could
affect bilateral military ties. The recent removal of two
UH-1 helicopters had been a good first step, he said, but now
it was time to act on the artillery and other hardware still
in place. Greece was 'in the process of dealing with the
issue,' said Spiliotopoulos. Pointing out that Turkey had
large amounts of U.S.-origin equipment on Cyprus (legally,
because it was under the direct control of Turkish forces),
he suggested that Greek equipment would remain on the island
under the Greek plan. Bryza replied that, ideally, all
U.S.-origin equipment would leave the island. At a minimum,
however, its presence needed to accord with U.S. legal
requirements. In a follow-up conversation with MOD
Diplomatic Advisor Ioannis Bourloyiannis, Ambassador made
clear that an outstanding Greek request to import U.S.-origin
M109 howitzers from Germany would not be approved until U.S.
concerns Cyprus arms were resolved.
Tensions in the Aegean
6. (C) Spiliotopoulos offered the Greek perspective on
Turkish air activity over the Aegean, while demonstrating a
live feed of Aegean air traffic at the computer on his desk.
He estimated that 25 percent of Turkish flights in the region
passed within 6 nautical miles of Greek territory.
Nevertheless, he said, Greek pilots were under strict
instructions to avoid incidents. To emphasize this point,
Spiliotopoulos pointed out the special telephone on his desk
which he used to contact Greek pilots to urge them to avoid
confrontations with their Turkish counterparts. At the same
time, he added, caution and international law obligated
Greece to protect civil aviation in its FIR by inspecting
unidentified aircraft. Observing that Turkish actions were
motivated by a sense of weakness as well as bravado, Bryza
counseled continued calm in Athens' response.
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media