Greece will buy three frigates from France as part of a deep “strategic partnership” between the two countries to defend their common interests in the Mediterranean, French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Tuesday.
The agreement marks “a bold first step towards European strategic autonomy,” Macron said during a signing ceremony with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Elysee Palace.
He described Athens’ decision to buy the Belharra ships as a “sign of confidence” in the French defense industry, particularly in the face of competition from the American group Lockheed Martin, according to press reports.
The deal also sends a signal from Paris after its stinging loss of a multibillion-euro contract for submarines with Australia, which announced it would sign a deal for powered submarines instead. nuclear power in the United States.
Macron has long insisted that Europe must develop its own defense capabilities and no longer depend so much on the United States.
“Today is a historic day for Greece and France. We have decided to improve our bilateral defensive cooperation,” Mitsotakis said.
He said the deal involved “mutual support” and “joint action at all levels,” although no financial details of the contract were provided.
Mitsotakis added that the French deal would not have affected a defense cooperation deal being discussed between Greece and the United States, despite tensions sparked between the EU and Washington after the dispute over sub – Australian sailors.
The agreement is “not antagonistic” to Greek-American relations, he said, citing how “France supported us during the difficult times of summer 2020”, a reference to the dispute by Turkey of the territorial rights of Greece in the Aegean Sea.
Macron also promised that the US-Australia pact would not impact France’s strategy for the Indo-Pacific region, where China has made no secret of its desire to exert significant military influence.
“We have a million fellow citizens living in this region, and more than 8,000 soldiers are deployed there,” Macron said, referring to France’s presence across several overseas territories in the region.
He added, however, that “Europeans must stop being naive” about geopolitical competitions, while confirming that the French ambassador in Washington, recalled home following the submarine crisis, would return on Wednesday.
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