Greece will further strengthen its deterrent arsenal and will have even closer cooperation with Washington and Paris, Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos has told Kathimerini in an interview.
More specifically, Panagiotopoulos announced the acquisition of more precision missiles from Israel and the upgrade of the F-16 Block 50 fighter jets, adding that Greece is in advanced talks for the acquisition of Leopard tanks from Germany. He said decisions will also be made in due course on the possibility of Greece purchasing new corvette-type warships.
“The reinforcement of the armed forces is an essential condition for shielding the country and it is certainly not finished with [the purchase of] Belharra frigates and Rafale aircraft,” he said, noting that, since September 2020, a number of sub-programs have been activated for all three branches of the armed forces.
“Our effort is continuous and aims at strengthening the armed forces, which are already capable, combative and deterrent – let us not forget that,” he stressed.
He noted that the Americans are interested in including Greece in the F-35 fighter jet program from which Turkey has been excluded. Greece has also inquired about UAVs and “high operational value” weapons, he said. At the same time, he announced even closer cooperation with France, adding that the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier will visit the port of Piraeus at the end of March.
With regard to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Panagiotopoulos denounced it as a blatant violation of international law, and a disruption of the European security architecture. He said it does have a bearing on Greek-Turkish relations, without this meaning that they will deteriorate further, stressing that Greece is a NATO and European Union member.