Europe

Greek parliament ratifies defense deal with France

Agreement includes security cooperation between 2 countries, move hailed by both sides as step toward European strategic autonomy

Magda Panoutsopoulou   | 08.10.2021
Greek parliament ratifies defense deal with France

ATHENS 

After a heated debate, Greek lawmakers ratified a defense pact between Greece and France on Thursday, with 191 votes in favor and 109 against in the 300-member assembly.

The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and MeRA25 voted against the agreement, while the ruling New Democracy party, Movement for Change (KINAL) party and Greek Solution (Elliniki Lysi) party voted in favor.

“It is an agreement that upgrades the cooperation between the two countries in the fields of defense and security and of foreign policy overall," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during the debate on the pact, the Strategic Partnership on Defense and Security.

The deal, signed last month, states that Greece will purchase three French frigates which will be delivered in 2025 and 2026.

It also includes security cooperation between the two countries, a move hailed by both sides as a step toward European strategic autonomy.

Mitsotakis highlighted an article in the agreement which spells out a commitment to mutual defense assistance in the event of an attack on either county by a third one, referring to the "casus belli" declared by the Turkish National Assembly in 1995.

Opposition leader Alexis Tsipras slammed the prime minister, saying the deal is a “mistake” and that it moves away from the country’s previous doctrine of “being a pillar of stability and security in the region.”

In reply, Mitsotakis questioned Tsipras on the reasons he rejects this deal now, when in 2020, he claimed in an interview that he favored close relations with France.

MeRA25 leader Yanis Varoufakis also argued against the deal, saying that “with our ‘no’ tonight, we honor the genuine patriotism, exposing the dangerous nationalism of the memorandum. We are voting against the agreement that will push us deeper into bankruptcy and slavery, resulting in a higher risk of conflict and greater national insecurity.”

The same stance was held by Communist party of Greece leader Dimitris Koutsoubas, who slammed the deal, saying it does not serve the people’s interests.

“This agreement does not really concern the defense of the country, the protection of its territorial integrity, the defense of sovereign rights. That is, it does not serve the working class’s interests."

In January this year, Greece signed a €2.5 billion (US$3.03 billion) deal with France for the purchase of 18 Dassault-made Rafale fighter jets.

Greece’s defense budget is projected to reach around €5.5 billion (US$6.3 billion), more than double last year’s spending.

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