Greece and France signed a major defense deal and a strategic partnership deal on Tuesday morning. In the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the French and Greek foreign and defense ministers signed the deal of 3+1 Belharra frigates estimated to be worth 5 billion euros, as French media report.
Besides frigates, a key clause of the Greek-French military pact commits both parties to back each other “using all the means necessary at their disposal, including, if needed, the use of armed violence” in the event of an attack on their soil.
Under Tuesday’s agreement Athens agreed to buy three frigates with an option to buy a fourth for about 3 billion euros, a Greek government source told Reuters.
The three French frigates will be build by Naval Group in Lorient, in western France. Delivery date is between 2025 and 2026.
Citing sources form the Greek Navy, military affairs website militaire.gr notes that the French are committed to deliver 2 Belharra in 2025.
The accord, part of a broader strategic military and defense cooperation pact, comes after Athens had already ordered 18 Dassault-made Rafale fighter jets this year, making it the first European Union country to buy the fighter jet. Two weeks ago, Mitsotakis announced to buy another 6 Rafale.
The frigates will also be compatible with the Rafale jets.
“This will tie us for decades,” Mitsotakis said. “This opens the door to the Europe of tomorrow that is strong and autonomous, capable of defending its interests,” he added.
Greece will buy three frigates from France as part of a deeper “strategic partnership” between the two countries to defend shared interests in the Mediterranean, Macron said at a signing ceremony.
When asked whether this deal risked raising tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, Macron said the accord did not target a country specifically, but Greece, as the outer border of the European Union needed to be protected.
“I don’t get the feeling that in the summer of 2020 it was Greece that was bellicose in the eastern Mediterranean,” Macron said, alluding to Turkish actions in the region.
“As Europeans it is our duty to show solidarity with members states. It is legitimate that we commit to equipping it so it can ensure its territorial integrity is respected and that we commit to cooperating to protect it in case of intrusions, attacks or aggressions,” he said
Europe needs to stop being naive when it comes to defending its interests and build its own military capacity, he added.
French defense and foreign ministers Florence Parly and Jean-Yves Le Drian, and Greek counterparts Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Nikos Dendias sign the deal.
Meanwhile, Greek media wonder why the planned deal for 3 corvettes Gowind was not announced as well.
sources: AFP, Reuters, AP, Bloomberg, Greek media