Greece’s sudden “no” for French Belharra frigates amidst rising tensions with Turkey

Greece’s sudden “no” for French Belharra frigates amidst rising tensions with Turkey

Greece no longer wishes to proceed in signing an intergovernmental accord (IAG), or at a later stage a full deal, with France in order to purchase two “Belharra” Intervention and Area Defence frigates (FDI), which are armed with Naval Scalp missiles, a development that according to Michel Cabirol’s article for the La Tribune newspaper is about to bring a major blow to the strong Greek-French ties vis-a-vis the turkish provocations in the SE Mediterranean Sea, while as Professor of Geopolitics Ioannis Mazis puts it, will signify the end of the Greco-french alliance in this particular area.

In addition, Cabirol considers the Greek negation as a big slap in the face of France. For that reason the French ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence, Florence Parly και Jean-Yves Le Drian respectively, are struggling to bring the Greeks back to the negotiating table. However, the Greek side still considers that the price of 2.5 million euros for two Belharra frigates (FDI) is out of proportion, while the terms and financial clauses are insufficient and harsh.

While in recent months everything rolled smoothly and according to the given timetable between France and Greece in order for an intergovernmental agreement (IAG) to be signed during July 2020 and the signature of the contract a bit before the end of the summer, suddenly Athens, and especially the Greek Minister of Finance, Christos Staikouras multiplied the technical requests three weeks ago, to finally explain that he needed time to think before signing a defense agreement and the IAG, and therefore later the contract.

However, as Cabirol comments this particular issue is of triple strategic importance for France, affecting directly the geopolitical chessboard in the Mediterranean, as well as industrial (Naval Group, Thales and MBDA, mainly), and finally raises a matter of technological capabilites (Naval Scalp on FDI’s).

“The loss, in the current environment, would be a real defeat,” one observer said, even more since only France was as staunch to support Greece against Turkey.

However, as the columnist adds, some other observers trace and in this case the “invisible hand” of the US, which wants to provide the Greeks with cheap equipment, in exchange for directly investing in the country by the acquisition of  the Greek shipyards.

Ankara, at any rate, seems more than happy with the above mentioned development as the last thing the Turkish military would like to see are the Naval Scalp missiles being put into service with the Hellenic Navy in the SE Mediterranean Sea.


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