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Greece signs USD4.4B arms deals with France

ATHENS, GREECE (AP) – Greece on Thursday signed deals worth some EUR4 billion (USD4.4 billion) to buy three navy frigates and six additional Rafale fighter jets from France.

Defence ministers Nikos Panagiotopoulos of Greece and France’s Florence Parly attended the signing ceremony on the eve of Greece’s national day.

“It is with solidarity that we address the threats that face our nations and our interests,” Parly said. “This also demonstrates our will to partner with industry over the long term.”

The three FDI-class French frigates will be built by defence contractor Naval Group in Lorient, in western France, to be delivered by 2026. The agreement signed on Thursday includes an option to purchase a fourth frigate at a later date.

The six new Rafale jets, to be built by France’s Dassault Aviation, were added to an earlier order of 18 Rafales that included planes previously in service with the French Air Force.

France backed Athens’ positions during a naval tense standoff in 2020 with Turkey over oil and gas exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

In Paris last year, the leaders of Greece and France signed a security assistance pact that will include closer cooperation between forces of the two countries. Parly’s visit coincided with a build up of NATO naval forces in the Mediterranean largely in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. After the signing ceremony, the two defence ministers visited the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, anchored off the port of Piraeus, near Athens.

French jets on the carrier participated in an annual military parade in Athens yesterday to mark the national day, an event that Parly attended.

Late on Thursday, protesters backed by the Greek Communist Party staged a demonstration in the port of Piraeus against the arms deal as well as Greece’s involvement in NATO’s response to the war in Ukraine. The protest ended peacefully.