The Greece-France strategic defense collaboration agreement was ratified in a parliamentary vote on Thursday evening.
There were 191 votes in favor and 109 against.
Ruling New Democracy, Movement for Change (KINAL) and Greek Solution approved the agreement, as did independent MP Konstantina Adamou, while main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, Greece’s Communist Party (KKE) and MeRA25 rejected the agreement.
PM Mitsotakis: Today’s debate in parliament is historic
“It is an agreement that upgrades the cooperation between the two countries in the fields of defence and security and of foreign policy overall,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday during a parliament debate on the “Ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Hellenic Republic and the Government of the French Republic on the establishment of a strategic partnership for cooperation in defence and security.”
“This historic text is put to parliament for consideration, making today’s debate a historic debate as its ratification means the protection of Greece, the strengthening of the south European part of the agreement,. as well as the first effort for Europe’s strategic autonomy,” underlined the premier, adding that “for the first time there is provision for a clear and unequivocal clause of defence assistance in the case of an attack by a third party on one of the two countries and we all are aware who is threatening with casus belli our region”.
“The three Belharra frigates were an ardent desire of our navy and now Greece will have surface ships worthy of our Greek captains for the next 30 years,” the prime minister said.
“The first Rafale [fighter aircraft] will arrive in Tanagra before the end of the year. In addition, there are agreements with Egypt and Italy on maritime zones, there is also an agreement with the United Arab Emirates with a corresponding mutual defence clause, relations with Israel and the extension of the defence agreement with the United States for the next five years,” he said.
Mitsotakis described as “very important” the “Euro-Atlantic dimension of the agreement, but also the strengthening of the European framework” as “this agreement is fully compatible with the Franco-German Aachen agreement”.
“At the same time, a single European position is being established in the Mediterranean,” he said, explaining that these were all proof of a strong, autonomous European presence in the future.
“I share Macron’s view that we Europeans should stop greeting with naivety the tectonic changes in the geopolitical arena that are happening around us,” he added.
“All citizens understand the importance of the Greek-French Agreement, which provides for armed assistance from the strongest military force in the EU, the only one that has nuclear weapons in the Union,” he underlined.
The prime minister also explained that “the price of frigates does not exceed our budgetary capabilities, as we took advantage of the situation to negotiate hard. Their repayment is extended over time, but also the delivery time is very important as the agreement with Greece will precede, finally, the orders placed by the French Navy.”
“There is no defence without a strong economy to finance it,” the prime minister said, adding, “but also no economy without a strong defence and foreign policy to support it.”
The prime minister also revealed that “similar armament programmes are underway for the army as our country has abandoned the foolish doctrine of “we will chance it with our neighbours, without equipping ourselves. The first new frigate will sail into the port of Salamina in 2025.”
“The agreement exceeds this government’s term and is a legacy for the future of the country,” Prime Minister Mitsotakis said addressing parliament on Thursday.
“Consequently, every ‘no’ that is heard today in parliament will be a ‘no’ to the will of the citizens and the armed forces, which said a proud ‘yes’ to the agreement with France’,” underlined Mitsotakis addressing the leader of main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance party, Alexis Tsipras, and his MPs, adding that he had been informed of their negative stance and calling on them to reconsider.