The Greek Parliament has voted in favor of the purchase from France of 18 Rafale fighter jets in a period of tensions with Turkey. The agreement between Paris and Athens amounts to approximately 2.5 billion euros.
Eighteen Rafale fighter jets will be bought by Athens from France after the approval of the Greek Parliament on the evening of January 14. The bill was approved by the right-wing government majority, opposition leader Syriza (left), Kinal (center-left) and the small nationalist party Elliniki Lissi. The deputies of the Communist Party KKE and the left MeRa25 voted against the purchase of these devices.
Six of these planes are new while twelve are used, according to the government. The first aircraft will arrive in Greece six months after signing the contract with France.
As AFP clarified, French Defense Minister Florence Parly is expected in Athens by the end of January to sign the agreement, the price of which amounts to around 2.5 billion euros.
A purchase that “sends a clear message”
This vote “sends a clear message to several directions [et] aims at the effort to strengthen the armed forces ”, said Greek Defense Minister Νikos Panagiotopoulos after the vote in the Assembly adding that it was“ a positive message ”.
The decision to strengthen Greece’s defense was taken in September by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis amid heightened tensions with Turkey over the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the south-eastern Mediterranean.
France had supported Greece and participated last summer in joint military maneuvers in the Mediterranean. Tensions between Greece and Turkey, both NATO members, were discussed at the European summit in December. Brussels then planned to sanction Turkey’s “illegal and aggressive” actions in the Mediterranean.
The decision to purchase the planes comes as the Greek economy expects a 4.8% recovery in 2021, below earlier forecasts of 7.5%. The recession is forecast at over 10% for 2020.
With an economy still recovering from the decade of the debt crisis, Greece plans to spend € 24 billion in 2020 and € 7.5 billion in 2021 to cushion the impact of the pandemic on the economy. Public debt is expected to climb to 209% of GDP before dropping below 200%, according to official forecasts.