Greek forces could be deployed in Africa under last week’s deal, which has been described by the government as historic but drawn massive criticism from the opposition parties as the move could expose Greece to numerous threats.
Greece and France have signed a new defence deal, which will allow the two countries to come to each other’s aid in case of an external threat.
However, the intra-NATO deal of the two also triggered massive criticism from the Greek opposition as the deal also includes the participation of the Greek army in France’s operations in Africa, particularly in the Sahel region.
As per one of the articles of the deal, “joining troops or joint operations in the Sahel, as part of French-administered operations, to support common interests” is a must.
According to The Coalition of the Radical Left – Progressive Alliance (SYRIZA), the agreement also marks a shift in Greek foreign policy dogmas.
Criticising the deal, SYRIZA’s Foreign Policy representative, Georgios Katrougalos said, “The possible deployment of Greek troops to combat zones abroad will leave Greece facing numerous threats at a time when instability in the Middle East and the Sahel is leading to migration flows”.
Meanwhile, Alexis Tsipras, leader of SYRIZA has promised to amend the relevant articles of the agreement, which paves the way for the deployment of Greek military to the Sahel in support of France in case his party wins the elections in 2023.
On the other hand, the government was quick to defend the deal with the defence minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos saying that France’s operations in the Sahel, in which it directs, assists and supports the local armed forces in the war, are aimed at combating terrorism in the region and the possibility of Greece’s participation in these operations can add significant operational experience to the country’s army.
The deal is a ‘mistake’?
During the voting session for the agreement which took place last week, 109 Greek lawmakers of the 300-seat parliament voted against the deal.
The leftist opposition SYRIZA party voted against the accord.
Tsipras slammed the prime minister, saying the deal is a “mistake” and that it moves away from the country’s previous doctrine of “being a pillar of stability and security in the region.”
A similar stance was held by Communist Party’s leader, Dimitris Koutsoubas, who slammed the deal by saying that it does not serve people’s interests.
The strategic military and defence cooperation pact between the two NATO allies also includes an order for three French frigates worth about 3 billion euro. Greece had already ordered some 24 Dassault-made Rafael fighter jets this year.
Greece’s defence budget is projected to reach around €5.5 billion (US$6.3 billion), more than double compared to last year.
As it is known, France is highly concerned with the developments taking place in Mali as the country’s military-led government plans to hire nearly 1,000 mercenaries from the Russian Wagner private military group, which is reportedly linked to President Vladimir Putin.
A few weeks ago, France’s defence minister told reporters that if Mali hires Wagner mercenaries at a time when international partners are fighting extremism, this would mean isolation for Mali.
Although France has seriously criticised Mali for its potential agreement with Wagner military group, reports had previously emerged that Paris in collaboration with Moscow supported the deployment of such mercenaries as well as the members of Syrian regime forces and former members of Daesh terrorist group to Libya in the past.
Source: TRT World