The Associated Press (AP) reports that the government of Greece is asking its parliament to approve a 3 billion-euro ($3.4 billion) defence agreement. The agreement in question is a purchasing deal for “three new French-made frigates,” negotiated between French President Emmanuel Macron and his Greek counterpart Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in September of 2021. According to the frigate manufacturer, the French state-owned company Naval Group, the first two frigates will be delivered in 2025 and the third in 2026.
In addition to the frigates, the Greek government further asks its parliament to approve an amendment to an already existing armament deal between France and Greece. This amendment would foresee the addition of “six new Rafale fighter jets” to a previously made order of eighteen fighter jets. Six are newly manufactured, and the remaining twelve are taken from the French air force stockpile. Further, the armament deal is part of a more extensive defence cooperation between the two states, which Greek policymakers hope to deepen.
The Greek government’s request for the armament deal is made in the context of ongoing tensions over maritime boundaries in the Aegean Sea with its fellow NATO-member Turkey. Tensions between Greece and Turkey have been high ever since a dispute over “mineral exploitation rights” escalated into a naval standoff in 2020 during a Turkish attempt to conduct an “oil and gas survey” in the region.
The Greek government is likely to receive parliamentary approval, given the ruling parties majority in the legislative chamber. The governing New Democracy party commands 157 of 300 lawmakers, while the largest opposition party, Syriza, only won 80 seats in the last election. Despite their limited chance of opposing the agreement, Syriza and other opposition parties have voiced their concern over the deal. The opposition argues that the 3 billion euro deal might imperil Greece’s economic recovery, particularly in the context of pandemic induced “high deficit spending.”
However, the government has assured both the public and the opposition that the agreement “will not upset the necessary fiscal balance,” which the government is trying to maintain. Furthermore, the current Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos has highlighted that the Greek military “needs to modernise following repeated funding cuts during the country’s acute 2010-18 financial crisis.” Lastly, Panagiotopoulos has also intoned that the government would not have pursued the defence agreement with France if it was not “extremely necessary.”
Written by Johannes Krause
Gatopoulos, Derek. ‘Greek parliament considers major arms deals with France,’ Defense News. (2022) [online] Available at: https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2022/02/15/greek-parliament-considers-major-arms-deals-with-france/ [Accessed 16 February, 2022].