Greek deputies are preparing to vote on a bill paving the way for the purchase of 18 Rafale fighter jets from the French manufacturer Dassault Aviation for a total of 2.5 billion euros. The parliamentary debate began on Tuesday, January 12 and a vote is scheduled a few days later. If the contract is validated, it will allow Dassault Aviation to export its flagship aircraft to a European country for the first time.
The agreement should be signed in Athens (Greece) in January in the presence of Greek and French ministers. It is part of Greece’s plans to strengthen its defense capacity amid tensions with Turkey over their respective rights to energy exploration in the Mediterranean.
Six new Rafale and 12 used
For the purchase and maintenance of six new and 12 used Rafale, Greece will spend 1.5 billion euros in 2021, approximately 400 million euros per year in 2022 and 2023, 67 million euros in 2024 and 34 million euros in 2025. After losing about a quarter of its national wealth during a decade of debt crisis, Greece was hoping to record strong economic growth in 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic has dashed his hopes. For the year 2021, the country forecasts a growth of 4.8% after a recession of around 10% in 2020.
Despite these difficulties, the government has announced its intention to invest in the army, through an increase in military personnel, the acquisition of new frigates, helicopters and drones and the modernization of its F-16 fleet. Parliament is also due to vote in January on a bill extending territorial waters in the west of the country from six to 12 nautical miles, the government said. After a four-year hiatus, Turkey and Greece will resume their exploratory talks in Istanbul on January 25 with a view to resolving their maritime disputes in the Mediterranean.
With Reuters (Renee Maltezou, French version Flora Gomez, edited by Bertrand Boucey)
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