TEHRAN – A defense analyst says the Greek-French pact is a game-changer in the Eastern Mediterranean as French frigates have given Greece naval supremacy over Turkey.
“The FDI frigate is the 5th generation of combat ship for naval supremacy and crisis management,” Andreas Mountzouroulias tells the Tehran Times.
Mountzouroulias adds, “This warship is designed for navies looking for a compact frigate able to perform a large range of missions stand-alone or within a task force either.”
Greek lawmakers ratified on Thursday a new defense agreement with France that will allow them to come to each other’s aid in the event of an external threat. The move has stirred further tensions with Turkey.
The strategic military and defense cooperation pact between the two NATO allies was clinched last month and included an order for three French frigates worth about 3 billion euros. Athens had already ordered some 24 Dassault-made Rafale fighter jets this year.
“The military and defense pact signed between Greece and France seems to be the most telling as it provides the immediate military assistance of France to Greece and vice versa, if there is an attack from a third country, even if it is within the framework of their alliances (e.g., Turkey, a NATO member),” Mountzouroulias argues.
Following is the text of the interview:
Could you update us about the new defense agreement between Greece and France and its implications for the region, especially Turkey?
Turkey is expressing its displeasure at the Franco-Greek defense agreement with pointed remarks that it is supposedly harmful to NATO, as well as repeated violations of Greece’s air space.
France and Greece announced a defense and security deal, including the Greek purchase of three advanced French frigates and additional Rafale fighter jets. Moreover, they committed to coming to each other’s military aid.
Greek-French pact is a game-changer in the Eastern Mediterranean – Article 2 provides for mutual military support.
The military and defense pact signed between Greece and France by Greek PM Mitsitakis and French President Macron seems to be the most telling as it provides the immediate military assistance of France to Greece and vice versa, if there is an attack from a third country, even if it is within the framework of their alliances (e.g., Turkey, a NATO member).
As the pact states, the two countries agreed to provide each other with military support using “all the means at their disposal, including, if needed, armed violence” in the event of an invasion on their soils, according to a copy of the document.
The FDI frigate is the 5th generation of combat ships for naval supremacy and crisis management. This warship is designed for navies looking for a compact frigate able to perform a large range of missions stand-alone or within a task force either. The FDI frigate features high-level capabilities in anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine, and asymmetric warfare domains, taking into account the French Navy operational legacy acquired in a wartime situation. As the first digital frigate, the FDI frigate integrates the latest-generation systems around naval digital distributed cloud architecture, natively cyber-secured and compatible with the new Information Technologies developments and evolutions, and provides sailors with adapted services. Different versions are available to embrace the specific needs of each navy.
Does Greece expect a military clash with Turkey as a NATO member? In that case, where will the European states stand?
Turkey is a member of NATO and challenges Greece every day.
Interestingly, airspace violations have been a near-constant flashpoint between Turkey and another NATO member, Greece, for years. This is due to a dispute over the sovereignty of islands in the Aegean and other factors such as the delimitation of territorial waters and national airspace. The latter has resulted in frequent confrontations between the air forces of both countries. These have been known to turn aggressive, resulting in casualties on both sides.
While the East Mediterranean crisis reached a peak this year, Greece has been on the receiving end of daily Turkish violations for decades. Ankara has systematically violated international law, continuously threatening Athens while testing its air readiness.
“Erdogan wants the re-establishment of the Ottoman Empire; it is his dream.”Perhaps the single most menacing change in Ankara’s strategy vs. Greece has been the increase in the number of overflights of Turkey’s aircraft — often armed — above Greece’s mainland and islands. There have been 368 overflights in 2020 YTD – 10x the annual average of the past decade!
There is no excuse for Ankara continuing these provocations and international law violations. Equally, there is no excuse for EU/NATO to remain silent in the face of such brazenly illegal and threatening behavior. EU/NATO inaction only breeds Erdogan’s further illegal actions.
Turkey does not want a war with Greece because it is afraid of us. They have a phobic syndrome and do not believe in what they are doing. No Greek is afraid; respectively, the Turks are afraid of us. They are ordered to enter the Aegean, and in no case do they feel comfortable. If the “bag of Aeolus” is opened, we will prevail with an overwhelming difference.
It is no coincidence that every year Greek pilots come first in exercises. They love their homeland and will do anything to keep it free. They do not want to see it shrink, and under certain conditions, they want to see it grow. We have occupied places in Cyprus; we have people who have not been protected by the Greek state.
The Greek-French pact is a game-changer in the Eastern Mediterranean because Article 2 provides mutual military support. As the pact states, the two countries agreed to provide each other with military support using “all the means at their disposal, including, if needed, armed violence” in the event of an invasion on their soils, according to a copy of the document.
I do not expect help from other countries of the European Union.
Germany supports Turkey. It is noted that Turkey and Germany have strong economic ties, while about 4 million Turks now live in the European country. Some are descendants of the first Turkish immigrants of previous decades, while others are German citizens.
Greece, however, has strong alliances, beyond France, with the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and India.
What are the main differences between Turkey and Greece?
Ankara brings every day several issues to the table, such as the continental shelf, demilitarization of Greek islands, gray zones and airspace in the Aegean, and exclusive economic zones (EEZ).
In the Aegean, Turkey wants to discuss issues relating to the continental shelf, territorial waters, airspace, demilitarization of islands and islets, air traffic centers (FIR), and jurisdictions of operations.
As for the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus, Ankara wants to bring up the continental shelf and EEZ in the context of a “fair solution” for the protection of the rights of Turkish-Cypriots in the occupied part of the island.
Greece has made it clear from the start that issues such as continental shelves and territorial waters are not up for discussion because they have already been decided by the Treaty of Lausanne.
Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, his administration, and Turkish media continually claim that Greece must “demilitarize” their East Aegean islands.
Athens continually shut down any discussions of demilitarization.
Greece has categorically stated that there is no chance that the demilitarized status of the islands will be discussed. With Greece having a legal right to militarize its islands to varying degrees and watching Turkish threats against the East Aegean Islands, the dialogue will be deadlocked as Erdogan will not back down from his demands that the islands be demilitarized.
With regard to the militarization of the islands in the Eastern Aegean, various international agreements apply. In particular:
These islands were ceded to Greece in full sovereignty by the Paris Peace Treaty between Italy and the Allies in April 1947.
With regard to Turkish claims on the demilitarization of the Dodecanese islands, it should be noted that:
Turkey is not a signatory state to this Treaty. According to Article 34 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, a treaty does not create obligations or rights for third countries.
Why does the EU reject Erdogan’s plans for a two-state solution in Cyprus?
Brussels and Washington have reacted strongly to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to partially reopen a coastal resort town emptied of its original Greek Cypriot residents as well as his proposal for a two-state solution on the island of Cyprus.
Erdogan also voiced support for Turkish Cypriot plans to reopen a part of Varosha, effectively handing over control from the Turkish military and changing the status quo in defiance of UN resolutions.
Turkish troops seized the northern third of Cyprus in response to an aborted coup in Nicosia aimed at attaching the country to Greece.
Let us not forget that Cyprus is a member of the European Union. Brussels, like Athens and Nicosia, wants the settlers and the occupying army removed.
Ankara is flexing its military muscle in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in an apparent effort to torpedo efforts to proceed with the construction of the East Med pipeline by imposing its own maps and pushing its expansionist theory of the “Blue Motherland” at sea.
Cypriot government sources have revealed to Cyprus’ Sigma television that three Turkish warships – two frigates and a corvette – are blocking the Nautical Geo research vessel in southwest Cyprus.
The warships essentially occupy an area of Cyprus’ EEZ for which Nicosia issued a NAVTEX day ago. The vessel was conducting research in the same area until recently.
Ankara’s escalation coincided with the recent Greek-Turkish exploratory talks in Ankara.
The Nautical Geo – which is conducting research at the behest of Cyprus, Greece, and Israel – has anchored four nautical miles off the port of Larnaca.
Ankara is invoking a NAVTEX it illegally issued to conduct military exercises in the area, which has not commenced.
How do you assess Turkey’s role in the region?
Turkey has become a state that challenges other nations and gets involved in the internal policies of other countries. Turkey also played an active role in the Artsakh war, where it provided/with providing assistance to Azerbaijan. As it is known, Turkey sent a drone to Baku.
Turkey has also been challenging Greece in recent years and has tried to abolish international treaties. Turkey also sent mercenaries to Libya, and of course, Turkey was mixed in the war of Syria. Erdogan’s goal is to acquire nuclear weapons to achieve his purposes. At the same time, Erdogan has exploited for his own benefits the refugee and migrant crisis. He keeps sending thousands of people to Greece and Europe. Erdogan wants the re-establishment of the Ottoman Empire; it is his dream.