France’s commitment through the defense agreement with Greece is changing the balances in the Southeastern Mediterranean, Bruno Tertre, one of Europe’s leading strategic analysts, told SKAI and Apostolos Maggeriadis. The Director of the French Foundation for Strategic Analysis claims that with the defense agreement, Greece is strengthening its deterrent capabilities and France is sending a clear message to Turkey.
The interview in detail:
MAGGIRIADIS:Dr. Thank you very much for being at SKAI tonight. Two days ago, President Macron and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis signed a defense agreement between the two countries. What is the significance of this agreement and what does it say about the future of the Greek-French relationship?
BRUNO TERTRE (Deputy Director – French Foundation for Strategic Analysis):I think this is an important milestone in the France-Greece relationship. For years, the French have said they do not just want to sell arms to close allies, but to build a deeper and stronger bilateral relationship. I believe that the agreement signed two days ago is just such an example. It is an important sale for the defense industry but at the same time an important importance of the Greek-French solidarity. So both go hand in hand.
MAGGIRIADIS:What are the implications of the defense agreement in our region. How do you think it affects the balance of power in the Southeastern Mediterranean?
BRUNO TERTRE (Deputy Director – French Foundation for Strategic Analysis):Look, there are two different directions here: the first is that it helps Greece strengthen its ability to defend itself and prevent an offensive force that could be a troubled neighbor. This is true in the case of Rafas but also with frigates, which are new generation ships. So it is a gradual but also an excellent addition to the deterrent and defensive capabilities of Greece. But there is a strong political message: The political message goes beyond the obligations absorbed by our membership of the European Union, because NATO is one thing, but it cannot be protected from an attack by another NATO member. So we confirm through a specific defense commitment, we confirm that we will help Greece to defend itself, if its territory has not been attacked. Now, some say it’s a symbolic commitment. I do not believe that. I believe that countries are not committed for symbolic reasons. I think it means a lot to the way we see the problems in the Mediterranean today.
MAGGIRIADIS:President Erdogan seems unhappy with the way his relationship with the United States has developed. It appears to be asking President Putin for fighter jets and submarines, in addition to the S-400 missile system. I wonder if such a development will make the NATO rhetoric about Turkey inevitable.
BRUNO TERTRE (Deputy Director – French Foundation for Strategic Analysis):I do not think so. Obviously, Turkey’s relationship with the United States has not improved since Biden’s election. But I do not think Erdogan wants to burn his bridges with NATO. I think Turkey thinks it is better to stay in NATO than to be outside. The larger US wants to oust Turkey from NATO.
By the way, I think there has been a lot of supply between Turkey and the US, but I do not think a second batch of the S-400 missile system will be sold to Turkey any time soon. Let’s wait and see, but I do not think that this is how things will turn out. If that happens, it will be a clear sign that Turkey wants to join the United States. It will not be a good development for the Mediterranean but also for the Atlantic Alliance.