France and Greece signed a major defense pact on Tuesday that includes commitments from Athens to purchase three French warships, with an option for a fourth, according to Bloomberg.
“Our countries are taking the first step towards a European strategic autonomy,” said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during a joint press conference in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron.
“Europe needs to stop being naive when it comes to defending its interests and build its own military capacity,” said Macron after Greece sealed a deal for French warships worth about 3 billion euros ($3.51 billion), reported Reuters.
“As Europeans, it is our duty to show solidarity with members states. It is legitimate that we commit to equipping it so it can ensure its territorial integrity is respected and that we commit to cooperating to protect it in case of intrusions, attacks or aggressions,” added Macron.
It’s a coup for Macron, who has been pushing harder for Europe to boost its own defense capabilities in the two weeks since Australia, Britain and the US announced a defence pact in the Pacific.
The deal forged in secrecy left out France, a resident power of the region and Canberra then reneged on a previous agreement to buy a dozen French non-nuclear submarines. Macron was left angry and humiliated.
Mitsotakis called the idea of a European army “a mature proposal,” in an ERT TV interview on Monday from Paris. During his speech at United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, Mitsotakis said a European Defense Union will also strengthen NATO.
Tuesday’s accord comes as the Greek navy upgrades its fleet and tensions with Turkey rise once again over Turkish actions in disputed waters.
Leaders of nine Mediterranean countries recently called on Ankara to “unequivocally abide by international legality” and refrain from “provocations.” They also said they will use the “instruments and options” at their disposal to defend their interests and regional stability.
Earlier in September, Greece announced the acquisition of six Rafale fighter jets. That’s in addition to an agreement for the purchase of 18 Rafale aircrafts signed in January.