The deal was signed during a visit of Minister Dendias and the Minister of Defense, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, to Riyad and Jedda, where they met with top Saudi Arabian officials.
Two new deals signed between Greece and Saudi Arabia
The visit was an important one, the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs told Greek journalists.
“First of all, we signed an agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council, which both sides pursued for a long time. And we signed an agreement for the deployment of a Patriot battery here in Saudi Arabia,”, he explained.
“I think this constitutes a major progress for our country, in terms of cooperation with the Gulf countries, and of our contribution to the broader security of Western energy sources. I think Greek foreign policy, a main focus of which is strengthening ties between our country and Gulf countries, took another step forward,” Minister Dendias added.
When asked about the participation of the United Arab Emirates -the other major traditional power of the Gulf and the Arab World in the Mediterranean- in the Iniochos Greek military exercise, and the message that this conveys, the Greek official answered that they saw it as the creation of a front of understanding on the solid foundation of international law.
“All countries in the wider region, without exception, that subscribe to international law as a means of understanding and a way of conduct are welcome in this broader understanding we are trying to create. And which, as you said, has produced tangible evidence of success,”, he concluded.
Background of the deal
Talks about the provision of an air defense system by Athens to Riyad started in October 2019, following the Yemeni strike on state-owned company Aramco in Saudi Arabia on September 14.
The Patriot is considered to be one of the best anti-missile systems in the world. Its radar can cover an area of up to 170 km, while it can engage targets in a range of up to 150 km.
In February 2021, Minister Dendias revealed that the two countries may be close to signing a Status of Forces Agreement that will allow Greek military personnel to be stationed in Saudi Arabia for as long as the Patriot battery remains in the kingdom.
In his statements, he insisted that the Patriot is a defensive system, not an offensive one. “Just to be clear,” he added. “Greece does not project aggressive power anywhere.”
The Patriot’s transport and the enhancement of bilateral defense ties with his Saudi counterpart had been already discussed when Prince Faisal bin Farhan visited Athens in January 2020.