France and Greece sign a defense agreement; Athens buys 3 warships

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PARIS (AP) – France and Greece on Tuesday announced a defense deal worth around € 3 billion ($ 3.5 billion), including Athens’ decision to buy three ships war as part of a strategy to strengthen its defense capabilities in the eastern Mediterranean in a context of recurring tensions with Turkey, a long-standing enemy.

President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a strategic defense and security partnership at a joint press conference in Paris.

“This partnership expresses our desire to increase and intensify our cooperation in the defense and security sector on the basis of our mutual interests,” Macron said. It “will help protect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the two States”.

Greece will buy three French frigates to be built by defense contractor Naval Group in Lorient, western France. The agreement includes an option to acquire a fourth frigate.

Mitsotakis said it came “from a national motivation to protect our country”, but also had “a European motive because it strengthens our common defense industry“.

“Greece and France are today taking a first daring step towards European strategic autonomy”, he added, affirming that this paves the way for “a Europe which (…) Mediterranean, in the Middle- East.

The announcement comes at a key moment for France after the loss this month of a $ 66 billion deal to sell diesel-electric submarines to Australia, which has opted instead to acquire pennies. -Nuclear-powered navies supplied by the United States. Australia, the UK and the US have come as a shock to French officials.

French Defense Ministry spokesman Hervé Grandjean said the warships contract was worth around € 3 billion. The frigates will be delivered in 2025 and 2026.

As France and Greece enter a period of negotiation over the details of the deal, Granjean said “we have no doubts about the positive outcome” – unlike what happened. with the Australian submarines contract. “We must not get into excessive paranoia and the incident we have been facing recently is the exception rather than the rule.”

Greece has already bought 18 French Rafale fighter jets and plans to buy six more as part of a program to modernize its armed forces.

Tensions between Greece and its historic regional rival, Turkey, have intensified in recent years over gas exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean and over the waters between the two countries.

The two countries have been at daggers drawn for decades on a long series of issues, including territorial rights in the Aegean Sea, sea and air borders and minority rights.

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Derek Gatopoulos in Athens, Greece and Alexander Turnbull in Paris contributed to this story.


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