Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis dedicated the first half of his speech on Saturday at the Thessaloniki International Fair, to outline an “ambitious and robust programme” strengthening the country’s defence and armed forces.
The announcements, including the recruitment of 15,000 new troops, extra spending on defence and acquisition of new French-made weapons systems, come amidst escalating tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and a day after Turkey issued a new Navtex for live-fire exercises in the maritime area between the country’s southern coast and Cyprus.
“Ankara is now adding to the provocations in the Aegean, the undermining of peace in the entire Mediterreanean,” Mr Mitsotakis said accusing Turkey of “undermining security in a sensitive crossroads of three continents.”
Greece’s new arms procurement program features:
- A squadron 18 Rafale fighter jets to replace the older Mirage 2000 warplanes
- Four Multi-Role frigates, along with the refurbishment of four existing ones
- Four Romeo navy helicopters
- New anti-tank weapons for the Army
- New torpedoes for the Navy
- New guided missiles for its Air Force
The Greek PM also announced the recruitment of a total of 15,000 soldier personnel over the next five years, while the Defence industry and the country’s Armed Forces are set for an overhaul, with modernisation initiatives and strengthening of cyberattack protection systems respectively.
Mr Mitsotakis noted the military spending plan comes after recent years of “disinvestment” in the sector.
“It is time to strengthen the Armed Forces as a legacy for the security of the country. But also as a supreme obligation to the Greeks, who will bear the cost. It is the price of our place on the map,” he said.
This year’s customary speech on the economic policy breakdown was delivered in front of a significantly reduced audience of 50 due to coronavirus restrictions.
Apart from pouring recources into defence and military, the PM also announced a €6.8 billion injection into the economy through measures including tax cuts and delivery of pension payments in retrospect and 12 reform steps encompassing, governance, digitisation and education among other areas.