NEWS

New power balance in East Med with French frigates, corvettes deal

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As part of the wider strategic objective of boosting military cooperation among European partners, Greece and France have reached an agreement for the supply of French FDI frigates and Gowind-class corvettes for the Hellenic Navy, Kathimerini understands.

The deal, which will include a clause on mutual defense assistance, is expected to be announced on Tuesday morning.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos are expected to sign the deal in Paris.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, on his way back from the United Nations General Assembly in New York, and French President Emmanuel Macron were to meet in the French capital later on Monday.

Greece has already agreed to buy 24 Rafale warplanes from French plane maker Dassault Aviation, 12 of them used.

The defense agreement is seen as a tangible implementation of the strategic outlook described by Mitsotakis at the 76th United Nations General Assembly last week when he referred to the need for the “strategic autonomy” of the European Union.

Greece, he said, believes in a multilateral approach to the complex, global challenges of the times but is at the same time “a staunch supporter of the absolute need for a strategic autonomy for Europe.”

Mitsotakis referred to the recent AUKUS agreement between the US, UK and Australia, stressing that Europeans should be willing and able to do more things “on our own.”

Indeed, Mitsotakis believes that if Europe aspires to be not just an economic but also a geopolitical superpower, it is high time a serious debate took place, beyond the one that has already begun for the creation of the EU’s own military force.

With this strategic outlook in mind, it is no coincidence that after the Rafale fighters, Athens has gone for a European supplier, and France again, for the frigates and corvettes it needs for the Hellenic Navy.

Another element that has led to the new Greek-French defense agreement is the close interpersonal relationship between Mitsotakis and Macron, as well as the transitional phase in Germany after the withdrawal of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The gap she leaves behind is seen strengthening Macron, which is also why Athens is seeking to further entrench relations.