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France announces sale of six Rafael jets to Greece amid Turkish tensions




The latest acquisitions bring the number of Dassault Rafael fighter jets in Greek service to 24. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said an agreement has been reached with France for the initial purchase of 18 planes, adding that a decision has been taken to acquire six more.

Over the past year, Greece and Turkey have been at odds over Turkish maritime claims in the eastern Mediterranean. Ankara claims a wide swath of waters as part of its exclusive economic zone in a controversial agreement signed with Libya in November 2019. This agreement has been condemned as illegitimate by Egypt, Greece and Cyprus, among others , who saw it as a blatant violation of their own maritime borders.

France has established itself as a staunch supporter of Greece in its competition with Turkey. Due to its own disputes with Ankara, Paris increased its diplomatic and military support to Athens, and French forces joined Greek naval forces for military exercises. The Rafael deal was signed for $ 6 billion in January and Parly congratulated Athens for making a European choice for its new fighter plane.

Speaking on Greece’s purchase of Rafael this summer, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar accused Athens to engage in an arms race.

Turkey and Greece have taken steps to defuse tensions with mutual visits of officials up to the level of foreign ministers of the two countries. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made and received several phone calls from Kyriakos in recent months, including for share concerns on the risk of Afghan refugees fleeing to Europe.

At the same time, France has also seen its tensions reduce with Turkey following a meeting between Erdoan and President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of a NATO summit in June.




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