NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg offered criticisms of EU defense initiatives and bilateral pacts within the union — such as the one that was just ratified between Greece and France on Thursday:
“What I don’t believe in is efforts to try to do something outside NATO’s framework or compete with or duplicate NATO because NATO remains the cornerstone, the bedrock for European security and also for North American security,” Stoltenberg said at an event at the prestigious Georgetown University in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.
The statements from the NATO Secretary General came just before the ratification of the Greek-French defense agreement by the Greek Parliament Thursday evening.
Greek Prime Kyriakos Mitsotakis called the Greek-French defense deal “a first step towards the strategic autonomy of Europe,” while addressing the Greek parliament this morning.
Part of the deal states that the two countries will mutually assist each other “with all appropriate means at their disposal, and if necessary with the use of armed force, if they jointly ascertain that an armed attack is taking place against the territory of one of the two.”
This provision, known as the mutual assistance clause, “essentially says that if any of the countries is attacked, if its territory is challenged, its sovereignty is challenged, then there is an obligation by the other party to assist it,” Mitsotakis said.
The principle of collective defense is already a core aspect of NATO, and it would seem like Greece and France are isolating themselves to defend against fellow NATO ally Turkey, the Associated Press said, noting that “Article 5 of the alliance’s treaty stipulates that an attack on one member nation is considered an attack on all.”
“Does Article 5 apply in the case of an attack by a NATO member? I’m not sure NATO has ever been very clear on that issue,” Mitsotakis said when he was asked to explain why Greece needed an extra alliance agreement with France. “My obligation is to defend my country and to form the necessary alliances over and above the security arrangements that we already have.”
The Greek-French Defense Pact was ratified on Thursday evening
The ruling New Democracy, Movement for Change (KINAL) and Greek Solution parties approved the agreement, as did independent MP Konstantina Adamou, while main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, Greece’s Communist Party (KKE) and MeRA25 voted against it.
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 for mutual assistance in case of armed attack against the territory of one of the two.
“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,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during the parliamentary debate.