Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday confirmed that Greece is eyeing the purchase of advanced US-built F-35 fighter jets and that a leading American defense contractor is seeking to invest in the country’s aerospace industry.
“We will launch the process for the acquisition of a squadron of F-35 aircraft, and we do hope to be able to add this fantastic plane to the Greek Air Force before the end of this decade. And I’m happy that on Friday, Lockheed Martin officially expressed its interest in investing in Hellenic aerospace,” Mitsotakis said at the opening of a reception following a meeting at the Oval Office with US President Joe Biden.
“Our two nations are working together across the board on climate and energy, on trade and investment, on defense and disaster response, and so much more,” Biden said in his speech to the gathering at the White House’s East Room.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that today our friendship and partnership and our alliance is closer and stronger than it has ever been,” he said. “We had a great conversation. And the dangerous part for you all is we like one another a lot.”
Biden also reiterated praise for Greece’s stance on the war in Ukraine, thanking Mitsotakis for the “moral courage and clarity you have shown from the very beginning of this crisis: speaking out immediately to condemn Russia’s aggression, welcoming Ukrainian refugees, being a bulwark of security for NATO’s eastern and southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean.”
“Together, we’re showing the power and the capacity of democracies to be able to act in unison. And we’re helping Ukrainians say ‘no’ to Russian aggression. And we’re saying ‘no’ to tyranny and to the idea that autocracies will outpace democracies in the 21st century, because that’s what is at stake here in my view,” the US president said.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said Mitsotakis, “is a chilling reminder that what we took for granted in Europe – that maps cannot be redrawn by force – is unfortunately no longer the case.”
Greece, he said, has been supporting Ukraine from the beginning “for reasons of principle, which should be painfully obvious, but we did so also to protect a world order that is based on the premise of respect for international law – what you like to call a ‘rules-based’ international order.”
“Neo-imperial fantasies belong to other centuries. They must not succeed. And they must not succeed not only for the sake of Ukraine, but to send a very clear signal to other authoritarian leaders that any violation of sovereignty will be met by a unified and a forceful response,” he said in an apparent dig at Turkey.
“This is why it is so important that Europe and the United States stand shoulder to shoulder in this fight. After all, what we are protecting are the values which lie at the foundations of our liberal democracies,” Mitsotakis added.