Lawmakers in Greece are debating on Thursday the recently signed defense agreement with France in a deal described by PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis as “historic.”
The deal, signed in Paris on September 28, states that Greece will buy three advanced frigates, with an option for a fourth, and a delivery date of between 2025 and 2026. The frigates will also be compatible with the jets Greece is also purchasing from France. It has already ordered some 24 Dassault-made Rafales this year.
The agreement also includes a clause of mutual assistance in case of armed attack against the territory of one of the two.
Lawmakers will vote on the agreement via roll call later on Thursday.
“The France-Greece agreement upgrades the cooperation between the two countries in the fields of defense and security and of foreign policy overall,” Mitsotakis said during the parliamentary debate.
Unequivocal clause of defense assistance
“This historic text is put to parliament for consideration, making today’s debate a historic debate as its ratification means the protection of Greece, the strengthening of the south European part of the agreement, as well as the first effort for Europe’s strategic autonomy,” underlined the premier.
He added that “for the first time there is provision for a clear and unequivocal clause of defense assistance in the case of an attack by a third party on one of the two countries and we all are aware who is threatening with casus belli our region”.
The Greek premier stressed that the three Belharra frigates were an ardent desire of our navy and “now Greece will have surface ships worthy of our Greek captains for the next 30 years,” the prime minister said.
“The first Rafale [fighter aircraft] will arrive in Tanagra before the end of the year. In addition, there are agreements with Egypt and Italy on maritime zones, there is also an agreement with the United Arab Emirates with a corresponding mutual defense clause, relations with Israel and the extension of the defense agreement with the United States for the next five years,” he said.
Mitsotakis described as “very important” the “Euro-Atlantic dimension of the agreement, but also the strengthening of the European framework” as “this agreement is fully compatible with the Franco-German Aachen agreement”.
“At the same time, a single European position is being established in the Mediterranean,” he said, explaining that these were all proof of a strong, autonomous European presence in the future.
“I share Macron’s view that we Europeans should stop greeting with naivety the tectonic changes in the geopolitical arena that are happening around us,” he added.
Opposition SYRIZA against Greece-France agreement
Main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras said that his party the SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance will vote against the Greece-France pact.
We will not give consent to a mistake,” he said.
Justifying his decision to vote against the ratification of the agreement, he said that it constitutes “a new doctrine in the foreign policy of the country that does not take economic capability into account.”
According to Tsipras, the new agreement moved away from the country’s previous defense doctrine of “being a pillar of stability and security in the region”, while he also raised the issue of its cost, accusing Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis “of shopping for frigates as if he were shopping ties” and raising questions about the size “of the final bill”.