Greece Ratifies Frigates, Jets Deal with France
Greece ratified late on Tuesday 15.02 a major arms agreement with France that includes the purchase of three frigates and six new Rafale fighter jets to an existing order for 18 planes.
The National Defense Ministry’s bill was approved by parliament. For the bill voted lawmakers of governing New Democracy, Movement for Change (KINAL) and Greek Solution. It was rejected by the Communist Party of Greece and MeRA25.
SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance voted ‘present’ in the proceedings. It opposed the additional purchase of the six Rafale jets.
“The message that the Greek parliament is called upon to send today is a message of unity and national responsibility,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis prior to the vote.
“It is the first time that the defence ministry has so quickly prepared programs for purchasing weapons systems, which are so important. Not only because this was made necessary by the provocations of the neighbors [Turkey], but also in order to take advantage of the situation. It is a national decision with an international orientation,” the prime minister added.
Greece “needs to modernize defense”
Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said the Greek military needs to modernize following repeated funding cuts during the country’s acute 2010-18 financial crisis.
“There is no armament program that is ‘slightly necessary’ or ‘somewhat necessary,’” Panagiotopoulos told lawmakers Monday during a committee-level debate in parliament.
“All of the armament programs that we have submitted for approval, in one way or another, are absolutely necessary for the armed forces – extremely necessary, urgently necessary.”
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and French President Emmanuel Macron finalized the frigate deal last year along with an enhanced defense cooperation agreement between their countries.
At the signing ceremony in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said the agreement is part of a deeper “strategic partnership” between the two countries.
“Today is a historic day for Greece and France because we have decided with President Macron to upgrade our bilateral defense cooperation, while expanding the readiness of our states for solidarity, mutual assistance and joint action in all fields,” Mitsotakis said in Paris.
Frigates to be delivered starting in 2025
Made by France’s Naval Group, two warships are due to be delivered in 2025 and the third the following year, with an option to add a fourth frigate to be ready in 2027.
In December 2021, Greece’s Defense Ministry said that a government decision to purchase three French Belharra frigates worth about 3 billion euros ($3.51 billion) is final.
In effect, Greece ruled out the US offer to sell its own vessels. A few days earlier the US State Department announced the approval of a potential sale of four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships for $6.9 billion to Greece alongside $2.5 billion worth of upgrades to the country’s existing Meko Class ships.