Greek PM hints new defense pact with France offers protection from Turkey

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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has hinted that a recent deal between Greece and France for defense against third-party aggression will actually offer Greece protection from Turkey, Reuters reported on Thursday.

“For the first time it is clearly stipulated that there be military assistance in the event of a third party attacking one of the two states,” Mitsotakis said before a vote on the ratification of the agreement.

“And we all know who is threatening whom with a casus belli [cause for war] in the Mediterranean,” he added, apparently referring to Turkey.

The pact agreed last month will allow Greece and France to come to each other’s aid in the event of an external threat.

Under the accord hailed by French President Emmanuel Macron as a major boost to the EU’s defense ambitions, Athens will buy three French warships.

The continental shelf and maritime boundaries constitute a problem area between Turkey and Greece as Athens seeks to expand its territorial waters to 12 miles.

Turkey, however, argues that such an expansion would be a casus belli.

Turkey on Friday criticized the deal between France and Greece, warning that the agreement would threaten regional stability by isolating Ankara.

“Greece’s armament and the isolating and alienating of Turkey, instead of cooperation, is a problematic policy that will harm Greece and the EU, and that threatens regional peace and stability,” Turkey’s foreign ministry spokesman said.

On Tuesday Macron said the frigate sale was not meant to be seen as a threat against Ankara, calling it a means to jointly ensure security in the Mediterranean as well as in North Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans.

France and Greece have forged closer ties in recent years, while each country’s relationship with Turkey has been strained.

Greek-Turkish relations have a history of war and conflict.

Last year, the two countries were involved in a standoff when their gunboats collided while shadowing each other during a Turkish push into disputed eastern Mediterranean waters.

Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgiç on Friday suggested that the warship deal with France was part of Greece’s effort to bolster what he called “maximalist maritime zone and air space claims” that were “contrary to international law.”

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