Macron: Greece to Buy Rafale Jets, Three Frigates From France in Deal 'Boosting EU's Independence'
The establishment of the new Australia-UK-US AUKUS security alliance earlier in the month had outraged France, which lost a multi-billion dollar deal on diesel-powered submarines with Canberra, abruptly terminated in favour of procuring nuclear-powered subs within the trilateral agreement.
French President Emmanuel Macron has hailed a new deal to sell Rafale jets and three new frigates, with an option for a fourth, to Greece as "an audacious first step towards European strategic autonomy".
Speaking in Paris at a joint news conference with Macron, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that his country and France had decided to upgrade bilateral cooperation in defence.
"We are heading towards a consequent strengthening of the strategic partnership between Greece and France", said the Greek PM earlier on public television ERT during his visit to the French capital.
Last year, the two countries had finalized a deal, worth an estimated 2.5 billion euros, for Greece to purchase 18 Dassault-made Rafale fighter jets.
After Mitsotakis acknowledged this month that Greece would buy another six Rafale jets from Paris, proposals had been expected to supply new frigates to Athens.
Athens will pay around 3.0 billion euros ($3.51 billion) to purchase three Belharra French frigates for its navy, according to a Greek government source cited by Reuters.
AUKUS Consequences 'To Be Assessed'
Australia's decision to scrap an earlier-agreed deal to acquire conventional French submarines will not alter Paris's "strategy in the Indo-Pacific region, declared early in 2018 in India," underscored Emmanuel Macron at the press conference. he also urged European countries to "stop being naive" about safeguarding strategic interests.
"We have partners in the region. France is an Indo-Pacific power regardless of any contracts, as over one million of our compatriots live here and over 8,000 French servicemen are stationed here. Australia's choice will have consequences that will be assessed in the coming weeks," Macron said after his meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
The termination of the deal would have a relatively limited fallout, affecting no more than a few hundred jobs in France, according to the French President.
In mid-September, Australia, the UK and the US announced the formation of a new security alliance dubbed AUKUS. The pact's creation sparked Paris's ire, as Canberra cancelled its order for a fleet of conventional submarines from France, saying it would instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with US and British technology.
France, whose contract with Australia was worth an estimated $65 billion, recalled its ambassadors to Canberra and Washington in an unprecedented move. It slammed the three countries for "stabbing Paris in the back" and of holding the negotiations in secret.
Emmanuel Macron added at Tuesday's press conference that the French ambassador who was previously recalled to Paris over the AUKUS diplomatic row will return to Washington on 29 September.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|