Paris - Greece will buy three frigates from France as part of a deeper "strategic partnership" between the two countries to defend their shared interests in the Mediterranean, French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday.
The deal marks "an audacious first step towards European strategic autonomy", Macron said at a signing ceremony with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Elysee Palace. He called Athens' decision to buy the Belharra ships "a sign of confidence" in France's defence industry, against competition notably from the American group Lockheed Martin, according to press reports. The deal also sends a signal from Paris after its stinging loss of a multibillion-euro contract for submarines with Australia, which announced it would instead sign a deal for nuclear-powered subs from the US. Macron has long insisted that Europe needs to develop its own defence capabilities and no longer be so reliant on the United States.
"Today is a historic day for Greece and France. We have decided to upgrade our bilateral defensive cooperation," Mitsotakis said.