Greece on Tuesday signed a deal to purchase three warships from France and enhance security cooperation between the two countries, a move hailed by both sides as a step toward European strategic autonomy.
The agreement comes less than two weeks after France was left fuming as it was excluded from a new Indo-Pacific defense pact between the US, UK, and Australia.
As part of the AUKUS alliance unveiled on Sept. 15, Australia will cancel a multibillion-dollar deal for French submarines in favor of nuclear-powered submarines from the US and UK.
“After the 24 Rafale fighters, today I announce that our country will acquire three new frigates for the navy, with an option to acquire another one,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said at a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
He said Greece and France share a vision for Europe to have the ability to respond to any challenge, stressing that this bilateral deal “paves the way for a strong and self-reliant Europe in the future,” Greek state broadcaster ERT reported.
The deal was formalized just a day after Mitsotakis claimed that Greece wants to avoid an arms race with Turkey and defuse tensions with Ankara in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Greek prime minister’s words were echoed by Macron, who has been ever more ardent in pushing the narrative of European strategic autonomy since the AUKUS snub.
He said the agreement is a major boost to European security, strategic autonomy, and sovereignty, urging Europeans to stop being naive and show the world that they have the power to protect themselves.
“We want to protect the independence and territorial integrity of our countries, while also promoting stability, security, and prosperity,” Macron said.
The agreement will greatly deepen Greek-French strategic cooperation and includes a mutual defense assistance clause, which makes it obligatory for the two parties to come to each other’s aid in case of threats or aggressive actions by other countries, according to ERT.