Macron tells Europe to ‘stop being naïve’ after France signs defense deal with Greece

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PARIS, Sept.28 (Reuters) – Europe must stop being naïve when it comes to defending its interests and strengthening its own military capabilities, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday after Greece struck a deal. agreement for French frigates valued at around 3 billion euros ($ 3.51). billion).

France was embroiled in an unprecedented diplomatic crisis with the United States, Australia and Britain earlier this month over a trilateral nuclear security deal that sank a submarine contract multibillion-dollar French design with Canberra.

This caused a lot of introspection in Paris on its traditional alliances. Speaking for the first time on the issue, Macron seized the opportunity on Tuesday to plead for greater European autonomy as Washington increasingly shifts its interests to China and the Indo-Pacific.

“Europeans must stop being naive. When we are under pressure from powers, which sometimes harden (their position), we must react and show that we have the power and the ability to defend ourselves. Not to climb, but to protect yourself, “Macron said at a press conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“This is not an alternative to the alliance of the United States. It is not a substitution, but to take responsibility for the European pillar within NATO and draw the conclusions that we are asked to take care of. for our own protection. “

Under Tuesday’s deal, Athens agreed to buy three frigates with an option to buy a fourth for around € 3 billion, a Greek government source told Reuters.

The deal, which is part of a broader strategic military and defense cooperation pact, comes after Athens has already ordered some 24 Rafale fighter jets made by Dassault this year, making it the country’s first ‘European Union to buy the fighter plane.

“It will bind us for decades,” Mitsotakis said. “This opens the door to the Europe of tomorrow, strong and autonomous, capable of defending its interests.

When asked if the deal risks increasing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, Macron said the deal was not aimed at one country in particular, but Greece, as the European Union’s external border needed to be protected. .

“I don’t feel that in the summer of 2020 it was Greece that was belligerent in the eastern Mediterranean,” Macron said, alluding to Turkish actions in the region.

“As Europeans, it is our duty to show solidarity with the Member States. It is legitimate that we commit to equipping it so that it can uphold its territorial integrity and that we commit to cooperate to protect it in the event of intrusions, attacks or assaults, “he said.

($ 1 = € 0.8537)

Writing by John Irish; Additional reporting by Angeliki Koutantou in Athens. Mathieu Protard and Sudip Kar-Gupta in Paris; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Raissa Kasolowsky

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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