“Today is a historic day for Greece and France, because we have decided with President Macron to upgrade our bilateral defence cooperation, while expanding the readiness of our states for solidarity, mutual assistance and joint action in all fields,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday in joint statements with French President Emmanuel Macron on the strategic agreement between Greece and France and the purchase of the Belharra frigates by Greece.
“The signing of the agreement on the establishment of a strategic partnership for cooperation in defence and security not only reflects but reinforces a reality which is known to all, which is that our two countries, Greece and France, have already developed a very strong alliance that goes substantially further than our obligations to each other in the context of the EU and NATO,” he added.
“In fact, the areas of foreign and defence policy are an important part but in no way fully exhaust this cooperation … Our joint efforts have highlighted in the most eloquent way the challenges posed by the climate crisis to the sensitive ecosystem of our common sea, the Mediterranean,” Mitsotakis underlined.
“Over time, Greece and France, France and Greece have ties that are permeated by common values.
Belief in freedom, democracy, the rule of law, human rights and, of course, respect for and protection of international law, and in particular the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he said and added: “Today’s development comes to consolidate this common prudent course.
But it is also an initiative that responds to the demands of the times on our continent.
Because today, Greece and France are taking a first bold step towards European strategic autonomy. We have the same vision with President Macron for the development of the necessary defence capabilities and the capabilities of Europe’s autonomous response to the challenges it faces.”
Mitsotakis also pointed out “the agreement paves the way for an autonomous and strong Europe of the future.
A Europe that, as the president said, will be able to defend the interests in its wider neighbourhood, in the Eastern Mediterranean, in the Middle East, in the Sahel.
A Europe that has the means, the will and the influence to guarantee world peace and progress, a Europe that will finally align its geopolitical power with its economic power.”
“And exactly in the context of this new strategic partnership between Greece and France after the 24 Rafale fighters of the Air Force, I announce that our country is buying three new French Belharra frigates for our navy, with the possibility of procuring another one.
My desire to equip the Greek fleet with modern French frigates obviously has a national motive as it defends our country, but it also has a European motive as it strengthens our common defence industry,” the prime minister added.
Mitsotakis also noted that this choice has a Euro-Atlantic aspect because it concerns two partners in the EU and two allies in NATO. “And a Europe that strengthens its defences is ultimately strengthening its own transatlantic alliance,” he said.
He then underlined that the connection between the two countries stretches back through the centuries but also through the course of European culture, “because, as you so aptly put it, this could not exist without the foundations of ancient Greek thought. But neither could it grow without the fertile wind of French Enlightenment.”
Mitsotakis also stressed the special symbolism of “the fact that we are now signing this important agreement 200 years after the start of my country’s struggle to become a free state, a struggle that would not have had a happy ending without the support of France.”
President Macron: We want to protect our countries by promoting security and stability in our regions
“I just signed an agreement of strategic significance for defence and security, which is the outcome of an effort that started in July 2018 and is mostly the fruit of the last 18 months that led France to commit to standing by [Greece’s] side in the summer of 2020,” stated French President Emmanuel Macron during joint statements with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday, after the end of the ceremony for the signing of an agreement for a strategic partnership in defence and security between Greece and France.
Macron underlined that Greece and France had worked closely over the last summer, with the effort culminating in the agreement to strengthen and intensify cooperation on the basis of their common interests.
He also added that “we want to protect the integrity of both our countries by promoting the security and stability in our common regions.”
Macron also referred to a deepening of cooperation in strategic decisions concerning the military sector, something which found expression, as he said, in the Greek decision to buy the French Rafale aircraft and three Belharra frigates constructed in France.
“This cooperation is part of the mutual plan of our commitments at an EU and NATO level by expanding and strengthening relations for the protection of our region in the interest of peace and security in the Mediterranean and the Balkans,” Macron said.
The agreement supports European independence, the strengthening of European sovereignty and world peace, said Macron in his statements, while noting that this cooperation has no “senior” party because “we are speaking of a common peace”.
The French president noted that the two sides “have a common vision, that of our common interests and stability. A will to act and work together.”
“In addition, I must point to the exhibition we inaugurated on Monday. Greece had a civilisation before it became a nation and allowed us to be the world we are today. Greece is the country that for the last 200 years was able to follow an ineffable path, that of independence, and be a part of the heart of Europe.
France, for centuries, fought its own battle for the ideals of Greece’s independence and will continue to do so because it is something existential for both your people and our people,” Macron added.
Finally, President Macron expressed his solidarity with the quake stricken on Crete.