Greece signed a multibillion-dollar military agreement with France, media reports have said.
President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met in Elysee Palace to announce the deal on Tuesday, which Greek media outlets have reported is worth €5 billion ($5.8 billion). The Guardian reports the deal will see France delivering three state-of-the art Belharra frigates to Greece by 2025, with the option of a fourth warship also on offer.
“We are heading towards a substantial deepening of the strategic partnership between Greece and France,” Mitsotakis said during the meeting. “With President Macron we share a common vision for the development of the necessary defence capabilities and for Europe’s ability to respond autonomously to the challenges laying ahead.”
Macron said the pact was part of a deeper “strategic partnership” between the two nations to defend shared interests in the Mediterranean.
Behind AUKUS security pact: a new perspective on the US’ rushed exit from Afghanistan
The announcement could, however, trigger a new arms race with Turkey especially in Eastern Mediterranean region.
Last year, the crisis between Athens and Ankara escalated with the deployment of a Turkish vessel in the disputed Eastern Mediterranean near the Greek island of Kastellorizo, a few kilometres off the Turkish coast.
Although Ankara had been constantly calling for talks and a settlement to the dispute, even temporarily ceasing its drilling operation, Greece militarised some of its islands in the Aegean Sea and attempted to limit Turkey’s territorial waters by signing a maritime deal with Egypt. It also pulled out of NATO-backed talks with Turkey in September 2020.
In January, Turkey and Greece resumed talks to settle the dispute over oil and gas exploration in the region.
Earlier this week, Mitsotakis said an arms race with Turkey would not benefit anyone.
News of the deal comes after France lost a €56 billion ($64.9 billion) submarine deal signed with Australia, which has led to the souring of ties between Paris and the US, the UK and Canberra.