Parliament on Tuesday approved the Defense Ministry’s bill on Greece’s new armament programs that include the purchase of six additional Rafale fighter jets, three Belharra frigates and submarine torpedoes.
The bill, under the title “For the strengthening of the country’s defense shield,” was ratified with the votes of lawmakers of ruling New Democracy, the center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) and nationalist Greek Solution.
Addressing lawmakers, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that Greece is strengthening itself with the Belharras and the Rafales and is creating “the national arsenal” that will also boost it diplomatically and “geopolitically on the European and world maps.”
Main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, head of the SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, told Parliament that his party supports the purchase of the new French frigates but is not prepared to give the government “carte blanche” regarding armaments spending.
“No one doubts the importance of increasing the country’s deterrent capacity, but it is audacity to wag your finger at us because we won’t give you carte blanche,” Tsipras said.
Tsipras was also particularly critical of the extension of the Greek-American defense agreement that will come to Parliament in the coming days, and denounced Mitsotakis for being the first leader in the post-dictatorship era to grant Greek facilities to the US military indefinitely.
Mitsotakis for his part accused Tsipras and SYRIZA of sending confusing messages.
“From what I understand, you say ‘yes’ to the Belharras and the torpedoes, you say ‘no’ to the Rafales, which you voted for some time ago, while you voted against the defense agreement with France,” he said.
Mitsotakis also challenged Tsipras to take a stance on a comment made by SYRIZA MP Giorgos Tsipras that “the defense of the country is not an end in itself.”
KINAL said Greece has a legal right to defense and security, but criticized the government’s handling of the armaments contracts, saying it should have asked for more in exchange.