Washington, Athens Talks to Extend Defense Agreements
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reveals ongoing talks with the US to discuss a five-year extension to the defense cooperation agreement so that they wouldn't have to renew it on an annual basis.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis revealed on Sunday that Greece and the United States are discussing extending their defense deals by five years instead of the one-year renewal currently in action.
"We are discussing a five-year extension to the defense cooperation agreement so that we don't have to renew it on an annual basis," Mitsotakis said in a news conference at the Thessaloniki International Fair.
He added that there would be "a more important presence of the United States in our country, perhaps in areas where it does not currently have a presence," without going into further details.
Mitsotakis stressed that the strategic cooperation between Greece and the United States is "at its best".
Athens and Washington signed a defense agreement in 2019 that allows US forces to make greater use of Greek military facilities, during a visit by the then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
But the Greek Prime Minister said today that this "does not close the door to other strategic agreements", praising a continuing "very close" relationship with France.
Rafale joins the ranks of the Hellenic Air Force
In January, Greece and France signed a 2.5 billion euro ($3 billion) deal to buy 18 used plus 6 new Rafale aircraft, as part of an arms program to counter Turkish challenges in the eastern Mediterranean.
Mitsotakis had announced on Saturday that shortly Greece would buy 6 additional Rafale planes, adding that the first batch will be flying in Greek skies before the end of the year.
Sunday, French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly welcomed the announcement in a Tweet, "Excellent news: Greece has just announced its intention to acquire six additional Rafales (fighters). Together, we are moving forward to establish a true European autonomy."
Excellente nouvelle : la Grèce vient d’annoncer son intention d'acquérir 6 Rafale supplémentaires. Ensemble, nous avançons pour construire une véritable autonomie européenne.— Florence Parly (@florence_parly) September 12, 2021
Macron's European policy
On Sunday, Mitsotakis stressed his country's support for the efforts of French President Macron to improve the EU's independent operational capabilities.
Macron is scheduled to visit Athens next Friday to attend the South EU Summit.