News ID: 94950
Publish Date : 28 September 2021 - 23:05

France Flaunts Warship Deal With Greece After Sub Row

PARIS (AFP) -- France and Greece on Tuesday signed a multibillion-euro deal for Athens to buy three French warships, in an accord hailed by President Emmanuel Macron as a major boost for the EU’s defense ambitions.
The memorandum of understanding for the purchase of the Belharra frigates was inked less than two weeks after France was left reeling by the cancellation by Australia of a contract to buy French submarines as part of a new defense pact with Britain and the U.S.
Macron said after meeting Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Elysee Palace that Greece would buy the three frigates from France as part of a deeper “strategic partnership” between the two countries to defend their shared interests in the Mediterranean.
The deal marks “an audacious first step towards European strategic autonomy”, Macron said.
The deal also sent a clear signal from Paris after its stinging loss this month of a multibillion-euro contract for submarines with Australia, which announced it would instead buy nuclear-powered subs from the U.S.
The French leader has long insisted that Europe needs to develop its own defense capabilities and no longer be so reliant on the United States, even warning that NATO was undergoing “brain death”.
Mitsotakis said the agreement involves “mutual support” and “joint action at all levels,” as well as an option to purchase a fourth frigate.
No financial details were provided on the value of the deal, but the ships are set to be delivered starting in 2024.
The accord did not include the sale of any French Gowind corvettes, a possibility that had been evoked in Greek media reports.
Mitsotakis added that the French deal would not affect talks on extending a longstanding defense cooperation agreement between Greece and the U.S., despite the tensions sparked between the EU and Washington after the Australia submarines row.
The agreement is “not antagonistic” to the Greek-U.S. relationship, he said, citing how “France stood by us during difficult times in the summer of 2020”, a reference to Turkey’s challenging of Greek territorial rights in the Aegean Sea.
Greece and France had already roused Ankara’s ire in January, when they signed a 2.5-billion-euro ($3 billion) deal for 18 Rafale jets -- 12 used and six new -- as part of a burgeoning arms program to purportedly counter Turkey.
Earlier this month, Mitsotakis surprised many observers with plans to buy an additional six Rafale jets, bringing the total order to 24.