Greece will buy three warships from France as part of a $3.5 billion defense deal to defend shared interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, the countries’ respective leaders announced during a press conference in Paris on Tuesday.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and French President Emmanuel Macron announced the agreement which is part of a broader strategy to boost defense capabilities amid ongoing tensions with Turkey.
Mitsotakis said the deal is naturally motivated by Greece’s own concerns but also has a broader European motive for common defense.
“Greece and France are today taking a bold first step towards European strategic autonomy,” the prime minister said. “A Europe that will be able to defend [its interests] in the wider region, in the eastern Mediterranean and in the Middle East.”
“This partnership expresses our will to increase and intensify our cooperation in the defense and security sector based on our mutual interests,” Macron said. “[The deal will] help protect the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity of both states.”
Greece will buy three ships from France with the option for a fourth. The vessels will be delivered in 2025 and 2026.
France’s deal with the Greek government comes after it suddenly lost a $66 billion submarine deal with Australia earlier this month. The French were poised to sell diesel-electric submarines to the Australians, but the latter opted for nuclear-powered sold by the United States.
Greece has already purchased 18 French Rafale fighter jets and plans to purchase another six under a program to modernize its armed forces.
Mitsotakis said his country’s deal with France will not affect the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement with the U.S. and that it is “not antagonistic” to Greek-American relations. The Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement remains under negotiation following tensions between Paris and Washington over the submarine agreement with Australia.
Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean have fluctuated for decades based on Greece and Turkey’s recurring disputes over issues such as territorial rights, sea and air boundaries and ethnic and religious minority rights.
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