Sunday, October 17, 2021

Greece’s MPs to vote on defense deal with France

ATHENS, Greece (WNN) – Greece’s lawmakers are set to vote on Thursday on a comprehensive five-year defense deal signed with France last week that includes a clause on mutual aid in case of third-party attacks.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis signed the agreement with French President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to Paris on 28 September, during which Greece also announced that it would purchase three French frigates for the Greek Navy.

The purchase and defense deal comes at a time of generally heightened tensions between Greece and its fellow NATO member and neighboring Turkey over energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Thursday’s parliamentary debate and vote are only for the defense deal, not the purchase of warships. The deal is expected to be ratified as governing conservatives have a comfortable majority in parliament.

Regional rivals Greece and Turkey have been at loggerheads for decades over a series of disputes, including the delimitation of the continental shelf, territorial rights in the Aegean Sea, aviation and maritime boundaries, and the demarcation of exclusive economic zones – areas where each country has Exclusive rights to exploit resources – in the Mediterranean Sea.

Greece’s government announced last year that it would revamp its military, including recruiting personnel and a major military procurement program that has already seen the country buy 18 French Rafale fighter jets.

The defense deal with France includes a mutual aid clause, which states that both sides will come to the aid of each other “with all reasonable means at their disposal, and if necessary with the use of armed force, If they jointly detect an armed attack is taking place in the country of either of the two.”

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The deal also included a provision for Greek participation in French-led military operations, such as those conducted in the Sahel region of Africa.

Mitsotakis said last week that the mutual aid clause “essentially states that if any country is attacked, if its territory is challenged, its sovereignty is challenged, then its assistance by the other side.” have an obligation to do.”

Speaking at the Athens Democracy Forum conference, Mitsotakis said that “this is a strategic partnership that in my mind goes above and beyond the mutual aid clauses included in European treaties.”

The idea of ​​collective defense is a core principle of NATO, of which Greece and France are both members, as is Turkey. Article 5 of the Treaty of Alliance states that an attack on one member state is considered an attack on all.

“Does Article 5 apply in case of an attack by a NATO member? I’m not sure NATO has ever been very clear on that issue,” Mitsotakis said during the conference when asked whether Greece needed an additional coalition agreement. Why is it necessary? “My responsibility is to defend my country and build the necessary coalition over and above the security systems we already have in place.”

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