Defense analyst on the Greece-France agreement
Last week’s defense deal between Athens and Paris is the biggest defense deal Greece has had in this century. In an exclusive interview with Greek Reporter, diplomatic – defense and geostrategic analyst Athanasios Drougos offers his assessment of the deal, what it means for the balance of power in the Aegean Sea and its diplomatic implications.
“I think the Paris agreement will have implications and ramifications in a wider area,” he said. But in the end, it would not change Turkey’s defense, security and maritime policies, nor its behavior until 2025-2026. “
It is then that the Rafale planes and the Belharra frigates that Greece has ordered from France will be delivered. Drougos believes Turkey’s provocative tactics in the Aegean Sea will not be affected by the deal, at least for the next 5 years.
Ankara has been expanding its naval air capabilities for years, ”he said. “He has made substantial progress in the defense sector through a wide variety of military programs, particularly in air defense, submarine activities, drones and power projection overseas – all thanks to to the “Blue Sea” doctrine.
Drougos, lecturer in NATO colleges and seminars, recalls Ankara’s commitment and military presence in western Libya, in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, and in the use of port facilities in Albania. He believes that these issues require special attention from Athens.
When the new French frigates arrive and be integrated into the Greek fleet in 2025-26, Drougos believes that Athens will have increasing and improved involvement and status in the sub-regional and regional air-maritime environment.
As to whether the purchase of the French frigates and planes is financially and diplomatically beneficial for Greece, Drougos believes that “the final selection was largely the right one, although it could have some ramifications and possible diplomatic reactions.” .
“The option of the French frigates is technologically correct, even if it inclines Athens a little too much towards Paris. In any case, in the times to come, I expect various tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean region. “
From a financial point of view for a small country like Greece, French weapons are quite expensive, thinks Drougos. He says Greece has not taken anything useful, or substantial for its industrial sector, from the Paris Agreement (eg construction / ancillary contributions, investments in Greek shipyards, etc.).
Drougos on the implications of Greece’s defense deal
According to the agreement, the two countries must help each other if there is an external threat to one of them. Does this mean that Greece will have to help French troops in parts of the world outside of Europe? Can Greece afford this kind of interventionist assistance diplomatically?
“The Paris Agreement has many puzzling ‘shadows’, especially in terms of guarantees,” says Drougos. “For example, it upsets the transatlantics. “
“I firmly believe that NATO’s policies – despite France’s complex behavioral stance towards them – remain the backbone and cornerstone of the Western defense system in a very strange and unhealthy global and regional political environment ( hybrid nonlinear and asymmetric cyber threats). “
Drougos considers the French defense guarantees useless, and are intertwined with Euro-Atlantic ones. “In some transatlantic cases Greece has for decades not followed a clear policy towards NATO, and the threat clause in the Paris Agreement does not help in that direction.”
“I would not be very sure and would remain skeptical as to the level of France’s involvement in the defense of Greek rights in its EEZ [Exclusive Economic Zone], says Drougos. He doesn’t think the French would interfere with Turkey’s broad-spectrum provocations in the Aegean Sea.
“I don’t trust French guarantees”
“I don’t trust the French to offer nuclear cover and guarantees in Athens in an extreme scenario of serious threats and tensions, for example. In addition, Athens should keep its distance from potential French military operations in any sub-Saharan / Sahelian bone of contention. “
The operations carried out by the French in Mali and its former colonies in Africa have been disastrous, according to Drougos. He believes that Greece should never participate in distant meta-colonial wars.
Was the deal on French planes and frigates the best Greece could have chosen? “Regarding the frigates, depending on the current and available ships (depending on existing characteristics, air defense coverage, long range weapons, anti-submarine capabilities, etc.), I would say yes,” Drougos says.
He remains skeptical of the Rafale deal, however, as it’s about 12 used aircraft, which have had no real combat experience in contemporary / recent 4th / 5th generation wars. “It would be better and more practical to wait a little longer before purchasing, as Turkey has not yet made its final selection / aircraft decision.”
Finally, regarding the possibility of the French using Greece as a diplomatic buffer against the recent AUKUS US / UK / Australia deal, Drougos believes it does.
“Greece moves away from AUKUS defense alliance”
“The AUKUS alliance in the Indio-Pacific is extremely important and strategic. It brings together three continents and raises (step by step) prominent obstacles to Chinese imperial thoughts and ambitions. AUKUS will soon have even larger dimensions and expanded ramifications.
“Paris lost a multibillion dollar contract with Australia to build nuclear powered submarines. In his wider plans, he aims to bring Greece to the side opposite AUKUS. Frankly speaking, I am rather worried about the developments to come.
Drougos believes that the US / UK / Australia alliance could potentially influence developments in Cyprus and other regions. “I remain skeptical, as I believe that most Greek politicians do not thoroughly study all relevant defense and diplomatic alternatives, and make hasty, frivolous and even frustrating decisions.