Greece continues its arms program despite Turkey’s concerns

Although it has said it does not intend to embark on an arms race with its neighbor and NATO ally Turkey, Greece continues to lead an ambitious rearmament program for its forces. armed forces, with a report from the local Kathimerini newspaper confirming that she is seeking to add 15 warships. to its inventory over the next five years.

In an article published on Tuesday, the daily said that initially, a contract for the purchase of three French FDI-type frigates will soon be finalized.

The government will then make a final decision on the corvette purchase program, for which Dutch, Italian and French companies are competing.

The report says that if supplies of two Dutch M-class frigates and six Alkmaar-class mine hunters, for which Greece and the Netherlands signed a letter of intent in October, progress, the Greek navy will have to put taking some older units out of service and allocating an expensive maintenance budget.

At the same time, the Greek and American coast guards signed a cooperation protocol in Athens on Tuesday, the official AMNA news agency reported.

The agreement reached within the framework of the expansion of the American-Greek military cooperation was signed in the presence of the Greek Minister of the Merchant Navy Giannis Plakiotakis and the American Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt.

Plakiotakis said it was an important step towards even closer cooperation between the two countries.

Pyatt, for his part, argued that cooperation would contribute to the stability and safety of navigation in the Mediterranean.

The Greek Navy already operates 13 frigates, nine Dutch Kortenaer and four German Meko-200 class, and had ordered three FDI class frigates from France in September.

Greece has also recently signed several expensive armaments contracts with Israel for the purchase of drones and missiles, with France for the purchase of Rafale fighter jets and with the United States for the updating of its F-16 fighter jets with the latest Viper configuration.

Most recently, the US State Department approved the sale of four warships valued at $ 6.9 billion to Greece as well as transactions to modernize existing frigates valued at $ 2, $ 5 billion.

Turkey has often warned Greece against engaging in an arms race, proposing instead to resolve all outstanding issues, including in the Aegean Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus, through dialogue .

Greece has often been embroiled in tensions with neighboring Turkey over a range of issues, from competing claims over Aegean oil resources to the demilitarization of the islands. In addition, Greece’s burgeoning arms program is designed to counter the protection of Turkish interests in the eastern Mediterranean.

Tensions are mounting again between Turkey and Greece over maritime borders and drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean after several months of relative calm. The two neighbors, NATO allies, disagree on a number of issues such as competing claims to jurisdiction in the eastern Mediterranean, airspace, energy, the ethnically divided island of Cyprus and status of the Aegean Islands.

Greece and Turkey resumed high-level diplomatic talks in January for the first time in nearly five years in an attempt to ease tensions over long-standing border disputes in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. However, the countries remain at strong disagreement, and Greece has launched a multibillion-dollar military modernization program with large naval and air orders from France and the United States. In response, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkey expects its Greek neighbor to adopt peaceful rather than aggressive political solutions, stressing that second-hand French Rafale jets will not change the balance. powers in the region.

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime border claims by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots. The two sides cite a series of decades-old international treaties and agreements to support their conflicting territorial claims.

However, Ankara has repeatedly stressed its support for resolving all outstanding issues in the region, including maritime disputes, through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiations. . Instead of choosing to resolve the issues with Ankara through dialogue, Athens has repeatedly refused to sit at the negotiating table and has chosen to rally Brussels to take a tougher stance against Turkey.

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Sharon P. Juarez