ATHENS – Greece’s 2.9 billion euros ($ 3.38 billion) deal to buy three French warships and the option for a fourth was key, but another part of the The deal calls for mutual defense – with France coming to the rescue if Greece comes under attack.
Neither side mentioned Turkey – directly – but the deal came as Greece’s rival escalated provocations at sea further and the pact gave France a boost after l Australia broke a $ 66 billion deal to buy French submarines.
The France-Greece deal about 22 times less than for the French helped solidify already close relations between the countries after President Emmanuel Macron backed Greece in 2020 when Turkey became belligerent.
All three are NATO members, but Turkey has been able to get away with purchasing Russian S-400 missile defenses that undermine the defense alliance and could be used against Greece in a conflict.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had already taken action to counter the threat when Greece struck a € 2.5 billion ($ 2.92 billion) deal to purchase 18 French-made Rafale fighter jets, 12 d used and six new ones, then brought it to 24.
While the discussion revolved around hardware, the crux of the issue was in the mutual defense that would technically bind Greece and France if either were attacked by another enemy – France would likely not be targeted.
Some unnamed Greek officials said the deal also provides a “French umbrella” for the protection of Greece, Kathimerini said.
Macron developed this idea when he suggested that the European Union, which uses what it calls “soft power” and diplomacy in foreign relations, which has seen the bloc trampled on by authoritarian leaders like the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, should have military power to support the speech if necessary.
“When we are under pressure from powers that sometimes harden (their position), we have to react and show that we have the power and the capacity to defend ourselves. Not to make matters worse, but to protect ourselves, ”Macron said at a press conference with Mitsotakis there.
“This is not an alternative to the United States alliance. This is not a substitute, but taking responsibility for the European pillar within NATO and drawing the conclusions that we are asked to take care of our own protection, ”Macron said.
The image drawn but not talked about is what would happen if Turkey provokes a conflict with Greece, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has openly admitted that he does not want to be part of the quarrel and said nothing about Turkey’s repeated violation of Greek airspace and waters with fighter jets. and warships.
Unnamed Greek officials have said that even if the option for a fourth frigate is exercised, the acquisition will cost far less than the 5 billion ($ 5.83 billion) that had been budgeted for the modernization of the defenses of the Hellenic Navy, the newspaper added.
“It will bind us for decades,” Mitsotakis said. “This opens the door to the Europe of tomorrow, strong and autonomous, capable of defending its interests.
Alluding to the gorilla in the play but not mentioned – Turkey – Macron said when asked whether the deal would exacerbate tensions in the Mediterranean and the Aegean: “I don’t feel like there is he summer of 2020 it was Greece which was belligerent in the eastern Mediterranean.
The French naval group will build the frigates at its Lorient shipyard and MBDA and Thales will supply the missile systems, the companies said. The 4,200-ton, 121-meter-long frigates will be able to carry out anti-aircraft, anti-surface, anti-submarine or special forces support missions.
Macron added that the sale of frigates should not be seen as a threat against Ankara, but as a means of jointly ensuring security in the Mediterranean as well as in North Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans.
“This is not directed against anyone,” Macron said. “It allows more effective and coordinated action for peace, cooperation and stability, in an international order based on the rule of law and full respect for commitments.