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Greece, France Ink “Strategic Partnership” with Frigate Deal

Greece France
Greek PM Mitsotakis and French President Macron watch as their ministers prepare to sign a new ‘strategic agreement’ between the two countries. Credit: PM’s press office

Greece and France sealed a “strategic partnership” on Tuesday with an agreement for the sale of three frigates, with the option for a fourth.

At the signing ceremony in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said the agreement is part of a deeper “strategic partnership” between the two countries.

The agreement, said Macron, strengthens cooperation in the area of security and helps safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries. It is also an important milestone in European defense, he said.

“I just signed an agreement of strategic significance for defense and security, which is the outcome of an effort that started in July 2018 and is mostly the fruit of the last 18 months that led France to commit to standing by (Greece’s) side in the Summer of 2020,” Macron added.

It’s a coup for Macron, who has been pushing harder for Europe to boost its own defense capabilities in the two weeks since Australia, Britain and the U.S. announced a defense pact in the Pacific, Bloomberg says.

The deal, forged in secrecy, left out France, a longstanding ally and power in the region, and Canberra then reneged on a previous agreement to buy a dozen French non-nuclear submarines. Macron was left angry and humiliated.

Greece France
President Macron and PM Mitsotakis address the press after the signing of the agreement in Paris. Credit: PM’s press office

“Historic day” for Greece and France

“Today is a historic day for Greece and France, because we have decided with President Macron to upgrade our bilateral defense cooperation, while expanding the readiness of our states for solidarity, mutual assistance and joint action in all fields,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

“The signing of the agreement on the establishment of a strategic partnership for cooperation in defense and security not only reflects but reinforces a reality which is known to all, which is that our two countries, Greece and France, have already developed a very strong alliance that goes substantially further than our obligations to each other in the context of the EU and NATO,” he added.

The agreement, Mitsotakis told the same press conference after the signing ceremony, with paves the way for “autonomous” European defense, “equal to its economic power.”

It cements the Greek-French friendship, which “transcends the framework of EU and NATO,” he added.

French defense and foreign ministers Florence Parly and Jean-Yves Le Drian, and Greek FM Nikos Dendias were also part of the signing.

Tuesday’s accord comes as the Greek Navy upgrades its fleet and tensions with Turkey rise once again over Turkish actions in disputed waters.

FDI-HN frigates to join Greece’s Navy

The FDI-HN that Greece will buy are 4500-ton frigates equipped with the best radars, with the extremely capable Thales Sea Fire AESA radar, and sonar, with the Kingklip Mk.2 hull mounted sonar and a CAPTAS 4C variable depth sonar, both also from Thales.

It would be armed with 32 Sylver A50 cells for Aster 30 SAMs, a RAM CIWS, eight Exocet SSMs in their latest upgrade, two twin launchers for MU90 torpedoes, one 76mm gun and finally, two remotely-controlled autocannons.

The build plan proposed by Paris would be for the three frigates to be built in France, with delivery of the first two by 2025 and the third in 2026. One remains as an additional option and could be built by Greek shipyards.

More Rafale jets for Greece

Earlier in September, Mitsotakis announced that Greece will buy six more Rafale fighter jets from France, bringing the total the number of French fighters sold to Athens to 24.

“I announced the purchase of 18 Rafale. Soon there will be 24,” he said during the Thessaloniki International Fair, adding that the first aircraft, a second-hand model from France’s own air force, would be flying Greek colors “before the end of the year.”

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