Greece and France sealed a new defense and security agreement on Tuesday, which included a deal 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.
Under the conditions of the agreement signed by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Tuesday, France has pledged to provide immediate military assistance to Greece – and vice versa – in the event of an attack by a third country, even if that country is in one of their alliances (such as Turkey, which is a NATO member).
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 stated.
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.
The Deal on defense and security between Greece and France
In essence, Greece and France, with a bilateral agreement guaranteeing the cooperation of both countries in defense and foreign policy, are acting within the framework of their alliances to strengthen the policy of EU strategic autonomy and deepen their relationship within NATO and the European Union.
The provision of three modern Gowind corvettes (with an option for another one) with full equipment is also on the table. Greece moved quickly and secured a very strong defense cooperation after the changes brought about by the AUKUS agreement.
More specifically, Greece will acquire 3 FDI HN (Hellenic Navy) frigates, with a configuration chosen by the navy itself, which is stronger than the corresponding French one.
The ship, which belongs to the next generation of “digital” frigates, is equipped with the top SeaFire radar. The latter is combined with the state-of-the-art ASTER 30 anti-aircraft missiles, in their latest version. The SeaFire / ASTER 30 combination will offer area air defense to the Fleet Units, at distances exceeding 100 km, while at the same time it will have Anti-Ballistic Abilities.
In other words, for the first time in its history, the Navy will acquire ships that will be able to shoot down air targets from great distances, while they will also be able to offer protection against ballistic missiles.
The armament is complemented by not only an advanced 76 mm cannon, but also a RAM system of 21 missiles, which completes the anti-aircraft/anti-missile shield of the ship.
The new Greek Navy frigate, in addition to advanced anti-aircraft capabilities, will also have top of the line anti-submarine capabilities, thanks to the innovative sonar CAPTAS-4. The latter will be combined with the state-of-the-art anti-submarine helicopters MH-60R that Greece recently bought from the USA and will be delivered in early 2022. The anti-submarine armament is complemented by state-of-the-art anti-submarine torpedoes.
Government sources also stated that the “Strategic Partnership for Cooperation in Defense and Security” between Greece and France means the following:
1. The Agreement seals the close alliance developed by the two countries, upgrades Greece’s geopolitical footprint in Europe and the region, and strengthens the country’s deterrent capabilities with the announcement of the acquisition of three new French frigates (details to be finalized in in the coming months).
2. The Agreement contains (in Article 2) a mutual defense assistance clause in the event of an attack against one of the two countries on its territory. In this way, Greece is shielded against threats, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean. At the same time, Article 42 (7) of the Treaty on European Union on the mutual defense clause is given substance through the agreement.
3. With the agreement, Greece and France go beyond their obligations towards each other within the framework of the European Union and NATO. At the same time, they are strengthening the European defense pillar and NATO, as they are two EU member-states, as well as allies in NATO.
4. The Agreement is accompanied by an announcement for the acquisition by the Greek Navy of three French frigates.
5. The Agreement provides for cooperation in defense and foreign policy. In this way, Greece will play a leading role, as previously announced by Kyriakos Mitsotakis from the Thessaloniki International Forum, as well as in his statements at the EUMed Summit, in the discussion on the need for strategic autonomy of the EU.
6. The Mediterranean opens roads. The Greek-French strategic partnership agreement is a first big step towards the strategic autonomy of the EU.
7. Already from his speech at the UN General Assembly, the Greek Prime Minister spoke about the need to develop the necessary defense capabilities, so that Europe can respond immediately to challenges in its wider neighborhood, such as the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Sahel, where NATO will not be “present”.
8. The Agreement provides for regular consultations between the Ministers of foreign affairs and defense of the both countries, both on security and defense issues, as well as on regional and international issues, hybrid threats, maritime security, and migration.