Greece’s defense protection “never served as a threat to another country,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Monday, following the signing of an agreement between Greece and France for the purchase of 18 Rafale jets.
Speaking on the same day of the completion of a renewed round of exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey in Istanbul, Mitsotakis said that sincerity and balance contribute to dialog on the delimitation of maritime zones, “which is the object of these exploratory talks.”
After a meeting with French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly and National Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, who had earlier signed a procurement agreement, the premier noted that the purchase of the jets from France was “a sign of the need for direct and closer military cooperation at European level in the Mediterranean, or in our ‘mare nostrum’, as [French] President [Emmanuel] Macron aptly calls it, as it is the place where the vital interests of all EU countries intersect.”
The Rafale purchase, Mitsotakis said, reflects Greece’s national strategy, which includes defense as a so-called twin pillar of Greek foreign policy.
The factors that determined the purchase included the Greek pilots’ familiarity with the aircraft and the immediate availability of the jets. (Greece will receive 6 new and 12 used Rafale jets between this summer and early 2023.) The premier also referred to France’s historical support to Greece dating as far back as the Greek Revolution for Independence, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year.
Parly said that the strategic partnership with Greece is part of a plan first described by Macron in January 2020 of promoting Europe more strongly and of contributing jointly as Europeans to the protection of its citizens and security. She noted that the Air Forces of both countries will be holding joint exercises shortly, besides a new joint defense exercise scheduled in April.
At the same time, the “Charles de Gaulle” aircraft carrier will be patrolling the Mediterranean, with a Greek frigate possibly accompanying it during this operation.