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Franco-Greek defense agreement set for ratification on Wednesday

The French-Greek defense deal has cleared the parliamentary committee stage and is expected to be ratified today by the full Parliament after a debate among party leaders.

The ratification is assured, with the parties backing it – ruling conservative New Democracy, socialist KINAL and nationalist Greek Solution – having 179 MPs out of a total 300. At least one of the two independent MPs may also back it.

All left-wing parties – main opposition SYRIZA, the Greek Communist Party and Diem25 – oppose it, but for different reasons. Indeed, a Communist MP, Giorgos Marinos, speaking at the committee, said SYRIZA’s opposition was “hypocritical.”

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Turkish aggression “does not allow the luxury of a negative vote,” without convincing the leftist opposition.

The government and the main opposition appear headed for a clash in Parliament on Wednesday, even though both agree, on principle, with the deal.

“It is better to have unanimity. We owe it to our neighbors and to allied countries to send a message of togetherness and concord. This will be a weapon as potent as the frigates,”

Dendias insisted, to no avail, referring to the three advanced technology frigates Greece will acquire from France, with an option for a fourth.

Government spokesman Yiannis Oikonomou chose conflict, attacking opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, who pushed his party toward a negative vote.

“For the umpteenth time, Mr Tsipras proves his political inadequacy to Greek and international audiences. He chooses to be the national exception. His treatment of the agreement is politically and nationally imprudent, far beneath the circumstances,” he said.

For a moment, it seemed that SYRIZA might be open to not voting down the agreement. SYRIZA MP and former foreign minister Giorgos Katrougalos said that “the rapprochement between France and Greece is strategically correct” and asked for two amendments. But it became clear the opposition will vote against today.

“Not the agreement we wanted, but better than no agreement at all,” said KINAL MP Andreas Loverdos.


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