Greek parliament approves defense deal

Greece’s parliament approved the purchase of three French frigates, six additional Rafale jets and 44 SeaHake torpedoes for Type 214 submarines Tuesday in a bid to strengthen the country’s navy.

The bill was approved by lawmakers of the ruling New Democracy party along with those of the Greek Solution party and Movement of Change (KINAL) party.

The bill, which was submitted in parliament last week, was heavily debated, with opposition parties slamming the government over the purchase.

"The message that the Greek parliament is called upon to send today is a message of unity and national responsibility," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in parliament during the debate on the bill to beef up the country's defense supplies.

Mitsotakis also said the government will continue to support society during the current wave of high prices, stressing "the subsidy to the bills of the households, businesses and farmers will continue for as long as necessary."

"Two billion euros have already been allocated," he said, adding that a further increase in the minimum wage will soon be announced.

"I will never allow irresponsible actions that will take the country back and force it to resort to taxes, depriving it of growth. We will not return to deficits and international unreliability," he said.

“The shield of defense is also the shield of the economy.”

Not prepared to give the government carte blanche regarding arms spending, Alexis Tsipras, leader of the main opposition Syriza party, said during the debate that his party supports the purchase of the new frigates, which will cost €3.23 billion (US$3.6 billion).

"No one doubts the importance of increasing the country's deterrent capacity, but it is audacity to wag your finger at us because we won't give you carte blanche," Tsipras said.

He slammed the government’s policy on dealing with price hikes, which leaves society unprotected, on the grounds that ”we will not go into a deficit again.”

“What will the citizens facing a wave of price hikes think when they struggle every day to pay their bills or pay for gasoline? What will they think with inflation today having climbed to a record high, the highest rate in 25 years, and you tell us these things when armaments cost (billions)?” he asked Mitsotakis.

He also called on the prime minister not to use defense for his political benefit, criticizing the video presenting the Rafale jets not as a national purchase but with his party’s logo.

“The Communist Party of Greece’s position on the purchase of the armaments is aligned with the people’s needs,” said the party’s general secretary, Dimitris Koutsoubas, “including their need for border protection, their sovereignty rights, peace, and their friendship and cooperation with the countries of the region and all the world.”

The party votes against the purchase of the jets and the frigates, said Koutsoubas, but will not do so for the purchase of the torpedoes.

The total cost for these three defense programs will cost €4.44 billion (US$5.04 billion) to the Greek government spread over six years.

The total cost for these three defense programs will cost €4.44 billion (US$5.04 billion) to the Greek government spread over six years.

The cost for the purchase of the Rafale jets amounts to about €1.1 billion (US$1.24 billion), while the 44 torpedoes will cost €112 million (US$127 million)

Greece received its first six Rafale jets from France last month, while two warships will be delivered in 2025 and the third one in 2026.

Source: AA

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