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Iran Press TV

Greece to purchase advanced jets from France amid tensions with Turkey

Iran Press TV

Friday, 15 January 2021 6:32 AM

Greek lawmakers have approved a government plan to purchase advanced fighter jets from France in a three-billion-dollar deal that is expected to infuriate Turkey, amid a dispute with Athens over energy resources in the Mediterranean.

The parliament voted Thursday to purchase 18 Dassault-made Rafale jets from France for $3.04 billion.

The two sides are scheduled to sign a deal later this month.

Under the deal, six new and 12 used Rafale jets are to be provided to Greece.

The first deliveries of the jets are expected during the first half of this year.

The deal with France is part of the Greek conservative government's plan to invest in the armed forces, increase personnel, acquire new frigates, helicopters and drones, and upgrade its existing fleet of F-16 fighters.

Earlier this month, the government approved a $1.68 billion agreement to purchase training aircraft from Israel.

Under the deal, which has yet to be signed, an Israeli military contractor will build a flight school for Greece.

The military deal, which will span over 20 years, is "the largest defense procurement agreement" between Greece and Israel, according to Israeli defense minister, Benny Gantz.

Greece has engaged in a long-running territorial dispute with neighboring Turkey over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean.

Tensions escalated last year between the two after Turkey began a military-backed hydrocarbon exploration venture in waters between Greece and Cyprus.

Turkey's discovery of major gas deposits in the waters sparked anger in Greece, which responded with naval drills to defend its maritime territory.

Siding with Athens, France also deployed its frigates and fighter jets to the region.

Turkey, at the time, warned France against supporting Greece in the escalation, saying that Paris wants to create a security force of the EU against NATO.

Ships from Cyprus, Italy and the US have also taken part in the Greek naval exercises, while the US and Italy have held drills with Turkish units as well.

There have been encounters between Turkish vessels and those of rival Greece.

Cyprus, for its part, accuses Turkey of breaching its sovereignty by drilling in the waters.

The European Union (EU), which has taken the side of Greece in the dispute, imposed sanctions against Turkish individuals and threatened Ankara with wider economic measures.

Turkey slammed the EU approach toward the dispute with Greece and Cyprus as "biased and illegal," calling on the Western bloc to instead act as an honest broker.

Greece and Turkey almost went to war in 1974 over Cyprus, which has since been divided, with the northern third run by a Turkish Cypriot administration and the southern two-thirds governed by the Greek Cypriot government.

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