Even as not many days have passed since France entered into a spat with the US government over jeopardising nuclear warship sales to Australia, the former is set to bounce back with a major deal likely to be going through with Greece in the coming days.
According to top sources, the leaders of Greece and France are expected to announce a major, multi-billion-euro deal in Paris on Tuesday involving the acquisition by Greece of at least six French-built warships.
Greece was already in talks to acquire three French FDI frigates — with the option of later buying a fourth —and another three corvettes. Greece has already bought 18 French Rafale fighter jets and plans to purchase another six under a programme to modernize its armed forces amid tensions with neighbouring Turkey.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who flew to Paris on Monday for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, said in an interview that “we are heading towards a substantive deepening of the strategic cooperation between Greece and France.”
He, however, declined to comment on the reported warship deal — which Greek media say would be worth about 5 billion euros ($5.8 billion) — only saying that announcements would be made Tuesday.
“I have no intention to enter an arms race with Turkey,” Mitsotakis added. “But there are key issues of modernizing our military after a decade of (economic) crisis.”
Tensions with historic regional rival Turkey have increased in recent years over gas exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean and waters between the two countries. Greece had announced plans to upgrade its fleet, discussing potential frigate purchases with countries including France, the US, and Britain.
Greek media said the deal that Mitsotakis and Macron are expected to announce at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Tuesday follows an improved French offer. They linked the offer with France’s loss of a $66 billion deal this month to sell diesel submarines to Australia, which instead chose to acquire nuclear-powered submarines provided by the US.