Monday, February 2, 2015

A revealing overview of the dangerous geo-strategic “challenges” facing the Greek bourgeoisie

A revealing overview of the dangerous geo-strategic “challenges” facing the Greek bourgeoisie 

Rizospastis presents extensive excerpts taken from a multi-page Defence Ministry report, revealing the deep involvement of the Armed Forces in the imperialist plans of the Greek bourgeoisie.

Today Rizospastis presents extensive excerpts of the Greek Armed Forces White Paper, published just two days before the elections, i.e. on January 23rd, and revealing the plans of the Greek monopolies to advance their positions in the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean and the former Soviet Democracies, to enhance their geo-strategic positions by turning Greece into an energy hub and an energy producer, to reach higher levels of the imperialist pyramid with the Armed Forces (AF) in a world policing role and to further involve the Greek people into dangerous intra-imperialist rivalries, safeguarding their trade ways, energy supplies and transit trade, as well as the overall operation of the capitalist economy. 

The multi-page document drawn up by the Ministry of Defence contains a report of the activities that took place in 2014 at a local and international level and offers a vivid outline of the priorities of the domestic bourgeoisie in “military diplomacy” and foreign policy, as carried out by all bourgeois governments, i.e. the previous coalition of New Democracy-PASOK and the current coalition of SYRIZA-ANEL, whose Minister of Defence did not waste time before arranging a meeting with the Secretary General of NATO Jen Stoltenberg, just one week after he took office

The introduction of the document was written by Dimitris Avramopoulos, former Secretary of Defence and former Secretary of Foreign Affairs, vice-president of the New Democracy party and now an alleged candidate of SYRIZA for the Presidency of the Greek Republic. “The White Paper provides an analysis of the international developments, future challenges and threats […]. White Paper documents give an understanding of the way in which our homeland [i.e. the local bourgeoisie] approaches new security challenges. This is an approach which is all-encompassing, level-headed and perfectly prioritized; equally acknowledging the short-term limitations and risks and the long-term opportunities for co-operations, alliances and profits to be made in the international geo-political arena”, notes Avramopoulos. 

The wolf pack and the monopolies 

In this context and among other things, the White Paper states on NATO: “After a long period of operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, the Alliance forces are preparing and re-organising their infrastructure and forces to effectively counter both existing and emerging threats. Those threats include, among others, the expansion of terrorism, international crime and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Apart from disrupting the operation of sea and energy routes, such threats fuel the uncontrollable expansion of immigrant flows into the developed western world. 

[...] In addition, following the end of the Cold War [NATO] has made a continuous effort to hold institutional talks with the countries of the former Soviet Union, supporting in this way the overall effort to establish regional security and stability. Of course, in addition to the new role and missions NATO is required to assume, the Alliance reaffirms its position as the leading organization safeguarding collective security and, as such, associates its role and influence with the ability to effectively assert its power in geographical areas where major alliance interests are at stake.” 

Elsewhere in the document we read: «In an effort to improve the ability of the Alliance to respond to the new security challenges, the Heads of the States and Governments adopted the ‘Readiness Action Plan’ in the Wales Summit (September 2014), in which they provide for a continuous (but not permanent) air, land and maritime presence and military activity mainly in the eastern part of NATO (mostly exercises). Moreover, provisions are made to increase readiness and create a new quick reaction force.” 

On the EU 
Regarding the EU alliance, the White Paper says among other things: “At the same time, the EU is trying to leave its imprint in security matters both regionally and internationally, making use of the institutional framework provided by the Treaty of Lisbon. By mobilizing existing institutions and actions, the EU aims to give a new push to the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and to effectively interconnect the EU political and military structures. At the same time, EU has been institutionally vested with the responsibility to assume missions outside EU borders, in order to maintain peace, prevent conflicts and enforce international security. The institution of new operational units, such as EU Battlegroups, has offered reliability to the operational branch of the Union, although the troops in question are yet to be used.” 

It should be noted that the Greek Armed Forces participate in the EUABG (European Union Amphibious Battlegroup) with one Marines Company and one Tank Landing Craft, and in the HELBROC battlegroup with one airborne Infantry Battalion and other sections. 

On the UN and the “unrestricted entities” of the capital As regards the UN, the White Paper unabashedly points out: “Despite a delay sometimes displayed in keeping up with international developments, the Organisation plays an increasingly important role in terms of legitimizing, through the resolutions of the Security Council, the main international operations of both NATO and the EU.” 

Also interesting is the point where the White Paper hints at some other, more direct and ‘flexible’, ways of intervention available to the monopolies, eager to play an “increasing role”: “However, apart from the national and institutional inter-governmental actors, a series of other informal and often unrestricted entities aspire to play an increasing role in the field of international interrelationships, with a clear effect on national and international security. This category includes the big multinational groups, the new international financial entities and a series of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) with an international presence.” 

Crete as a “security stronghold” 

The report states about Greece: 

“From a geo-political and geo-strategic view, Greece has been historically part of the wider European geo-political environment and inextricably linked to the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, geographical areas where Greece has primarily exercised its political and economic influence. The strategic value of Greece in the respective geographical area is determined by the country’s central position in the above-mentioned geo-strategic zone and by the fact that our country is a stronghold and a contact point between Europe and the Asian and African continents. 

[...] Meanwhile, the country has invested -both politically and in terms of infrastructures and transport means- in the capability to provide reliable security for the international transport routes between Europe and the international markets of Asia and the Middle East that pass through areas under Greek sovereignty or of Greek strategic interest. 

The importance of the above factors has been increased in recent years, with the international community seeking to gain stability strongholds in the area, against a wide instability zone extending from the coasts of North Africa to the Black Sea surrounding Europe (NB: this “instability zone” was mentioned both by the previous and the present government: as the new Foreign Minister N. Kotzias said on Tuesday, Greece is the “bright beacon of stability”...).” 

“Crete plays a crucial part in this effort”, says the White Paper, “both in terms of its geography and infrastructure. The island is a basic pylon of strategic planning for Greece and for all of our Allies and Partners; its position as well as its maritime and air bases make Crete a security stronghold in the Eastern Mediterranean region.” 

 South-Eastern Europe on the brink of exploding 

Focusing on the zones of immediate interest for the Greek bourgeoisie, the Armed Forces White Paper continues: “The region of South-Eastern Europe, emerging from a period of relative stability and peace during the first half of the previous decade, presents an increasing degree of uncertainty at a political and strategic level, as a result of the economic crisis and the worsening of the geo-political situation in the Black Sea region. The outburst of the international economic crisis has had a grave effect on the South, including South-Eastern Europe. […] In addition to the economic aspects, the security environment in the area remains unstable, with ongoing covert tensions -mainly nationalist in nature- appearing along with corruption incidents and the international organized crime. The above-mentioned phenomena pose potential asymmetric threats that may eventually appear in the form of political, social, economic and even military threats and have been taken into account when it comes to Greece’s defence plans. [...] 

Regarding our country, the decision of the Shah Deniz Consortium-SDC to build the ΤΑΡ pipeline the major part of which will run through Greece, lends a special geo-strategic value to the country and puts Greece on the energy map as an energy transport country. In addition, the creation of vertical interconnecting pipes for supplying other countries could make it suitable for transferring natural gas to Europe.” 

Eastern Mediterranean – Maghreb – Middle East: The most important hub worldwide 

The report makes the following remarks about Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East: 

“The wider region of Eastern Mediterranean, Maghreb and the Middle East is perhaps the most important geo-strategic and geo-economic hub worldwide. The area is the converging point of the biggest energy and trade routes and has the more extensive reserves of crude oil and natural gas in the world. 

This geo-strategic value has been increased by slow steps in the use of renewable energy resources, failure to fully exploit the hydrocarbon reserves in Africa and the Arctic and a change in the international community’s attitude towards nuclear power, following the 2011 nuclear power station accident in Japan. 

As a result, the developments taking place in the region in recent years take on proportions that exceed the prior regional background and are directly connected to the course of the international economy and the vital defence and security interests, not only for neighbouring countries but also for the entire Western World. 

[...] The bloody and long-lasting crisis in Syria together with the hesitations of the international community and the conflicting interests of the states in the wider region has given rise to new and more radical pockets of religion and ethnic fundamentalism that threaten to dismantle and destroy a great part of the Middle East.” 

With regard to the role that the Greek bourgeoisie aspires to play in the region, making the people part of its dangerous imperialist plans, the White Paper says: 

“In geographical and socio-political terms, our country is at present a European stronghold in the area and in this sense Greece is trying to play a central part in the current geo-political developments. 

Our basic goals in this effort are to ensure the vital national and European interests in the unified geographical area of South-Eastern Mediterranean, in a strategic co-operation with the Republic of Cyprus and the other regional and international partners.” Energy at the forefront 

On the “threats to the National Defence and Security” the White Paper explains: “The developments in North Africa and the Middle East, the efforts to detect and use energy deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean basin and the construction of the regional energy transfer system give rise to new types of threat in the wider geographical region. 

[...] As a member of NATO and the EU holding a significant geo-strategic position, Greece can play an important role in regional security matters that for the most part form what today is called the “new nexus of security threats.” 

According to the White Paper, this nexus includes “International Terrorism”, “Uncontrolled Trade of Weapon Systems and Weapons of Mass Destruction”, “Immigration and the Organised Crime”, “Cyber-attacks”, “New Forms of Piracy” and “Energy Security”. 

Regarding the latter, the report says: 

“Energy security is one of the fundamental priorities and parameters to be taken into account in policy-making for all developed and developing countries. 

The purpose of energy security is twofold [...] Firstly [...] to minimize energy dependence from third countries, to develop technologies of renewable energy resources and to fully exploit domestic resources and reserves. 

Secondly, it concerns the capability of the state to assert its national power and legitimacy in all sovereign zones, in order to carry out the above-mentioned strategies and economic-political decisions. 

More specifically for Greece, the country’s geographical position in the South-Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean makes it a crucial parameter for the security of the transportation lines and the energy networks that lie between Europe and Asia, Europe and North Africa and Western and Eastern Europe. The emerging energy environment and the effort to uphold the right for using the domestic resources and reserves generate additional security requirements, especially in the maritime environment.” 

Along the same lines, the White Paper stresses that “the detection of energy deposits in the underwater zone of the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean within the eligible, under the International Law, Exclusive Economic Zone of Greece as well as the planned construction of pipelines for transferring hydrocarbons to Europe create additional requirements for the Armed Forces concerning the protection and safeguarding of the national interests from all kinds of threat.” 

The Armed Forces as ... global ‘ambassadors’ 

This is what the White Paper says about “responding to threats”: “Besides facing all external challenges, the country’s Armed Forces are determined to respond against the above-mentioned threats,” on the basis of a “co-operation between the Armed Forces, the Security Authorities and the entire state apparatus, both at national and inter-state/international level,” “protection of navigation at a national and international level (to counter piracy),” “participation in the measures taken by the international community in an effort to democratize nations and establish the rule of law” [i.e. imperialist operations], etc. 

Besides, in a different part of the White Paper it is mentioned that under their new structure, the Armed Forces “will become Greece’s ambassador in every part of the world, wherever they are invited to contribute in order to establish peace and security, under the auspices of the international organizations of which Greece is a member.” 

Armaments serving the interests of the monopolies 

The chapter entitled “The National Defence and Security Policy” describes how the country “takes part in international peace operations and security actions on the basis of the respective resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council. The Paper favours the transformation of NATO into an organization for collective defence and security; supports the creation of the Common Defence and Security Policy (CDSP), the creation of a European Quick Response Task Force and details the implementation of the Maritime Security. 

Taking into account the above-mentioned threats in the wider area of South-Eastern Mediterranean, the Greek Ministry of Defence seeks to improve the air navigational capabilities of the Armed Forces through a Long-term Defence Material Supply Programme, principally focusing on the following operational fields: 

-- Increase the capacity of the Hellenic Navy with ships having a fighting capability, regional air defence, Maritime Co-operation aircrafts and modern Submarines. 

-- Increase the capacity of the Hellenic Air Force, by upgrading existing fighters and obtaining advanced technology aircrafts. -- Increase the ability to carry military forces quickly by using means of quick transportation.  

-- Increase capabilities in modern spheres of activities for the Armed Forces, such as space operations (e.g. participation in the HELIOS programme) and the cyber-space.” 

In addition, in the special section entitled “FUTURE PLANNING” we read that:

“The Land Forces are undergoing a process of continuous adjustment to NATO’s structures in order to respond to the entire range of missions undertaken by the Alliance and the international organizations of which the country is a member.”

“In order to maintain its dissuasive capacity in the future, the Hellenic Navy is planning to obtain new multiple-mission frigates and increase its capacity of air surveillance over the sea areas of interest.”

“Finally, within the above-mentioned framework, the Hellenic Air Force plans to purchase a new air fighter (in addition of upgrading the existing aircraft fleet) able to meet the country’s immediate operational needs in the wider area of the Eastern Mediterranean. In addition, the purchase of advanced technology aircrafts is being studied and planned in order to meet the country’s future needs. The Hellenic Air Force is also planning to buy a new advanced training aircraft as well as Search and Rescue / Combat Search and Rescue (SAR/CSAR) helicopters, in order to meet the respective needs under all conditions (peace time and operations) in the entire coverage area.”

Military “facilities” and “facilitations” 

The White Paper argues that «Greece plays an important part within the regional and international security system, aspiring to become a driving force for stability in the wider region of South-Eastern Europe. In order to achieve this difficult task, our country maintains […] some extremely important facilities and facilitation bases (NB: such as the military bases in Souda, Aktio and Araxos) offering a unique advantage for a potential deployment of the air and naval forces of our allies in the wider region of South-Eastern Europe and the Middle East. This element is of vital importance regarding the deployment and support of multi-national efforts […]. As the example of Libya shows, we have created a well-established and multi-faceted structure of support forces to adjust to NATO’s corresponding operational and training requirements.”

Elsewhere in the text there is a description of a series of such structures:

-- NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Centre (NMIOTC): “NMIOTC is a facility based in Souda, Crete, that plays a very significant role for Greece; NMIOTC’s mission is to provide combined training to NATO forces in order to enhance their capability in executing surface, air and sub-surface surveillance as well as special operational activities supporting the Maritime Interdiction Operations.”

-- Hellenic Multinational Peace Support Operations Training Centre (HMPSOTC): “The Centre, based in Kilkis, provides support to the staff prior to their mission assignment within the context of the above-mentioned organizations. HMPSOTC provides advanced academic and field training on all peace support operation issues to military staff as well as pre-deployment mission-specific training to Multinational Units.”

-- NATO Firing Missile Installation (NAMFI): “NAMFI is based in Chania, Crete, and is used on a permanent basis by Germany, the Netherlands, Greece and Belgium. Each NATO state has the right to use the Firing Missile Installation in Crete and this right is extended to third countries, technology institutes, companies and organizations upon application.”

-- Athens Multinational Sealift Co-operation Centre (AMSCC): AMSCC is based in Athens and its mission is to acquire sealift means of transport for strategic sea transportations in competitive prices and monitor such transport means on behalf of the States/International Organisations that have entered into an agreement with the Centre […]. In recent years, AMSCC has taken part in NATO and EU crisis management operations. In order to meet the modern-day and future requirements in the field of strategic lifts, AMSCC seeks to take on planning and co-ordination responsibilities not only for sealift services but also for land, air and combined lifts.” Training for out-of-border operations

Finally, the White Paper describes how the Greek Armed Forces participate in a Helicopter Training Programme aiming to increase the capability of helicopter crews in EU crisis management operations and a Multinational Structured Health Units for the deployment of a multinational field hospital.

The Paper also provides information on the proposal to set up a European Air Transport Command and carry out the corresponding exercises in order to enforce the EU’s military transport capacity; the need to increase the EU’s air refueling capacity, which means that there are plans for aircraft activities far away from their bases and the priority given by the EU to Remote-controlled Air Systems “for a multinational military co-operation between Member States already using or planning to use advanced unmanned air systems in operations.”

Rizospastis [The Radical]: Official Organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece, 1 February 2015
Translated from the original by Effie A.

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