Obviously, French President Emmanuel Macron and his Greek counterpart Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis have decided to go quickly and far in terms of military and industrial cooperation between France and Greece, to block the road to the Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean. Indeed, according to the Greek press, citing concomitant official sources, the two men are to meet on September 10 to sign a Defense agreement, but also, if the deadlines are met, the signing of ordering a squadron of Rafale aircraft, as well as, potentially, the order of the two FDI Belh @ rra frigates, which until now had been stopped.
Indeed, the two heads of state have obviously decided to directly steer these files which have taken on a strategic dimension for the two countries. On the Greek side, it is the excitement, because it is necessary to obtain the approval of all the ministries concerned by such acquisitions, as well as of the Parliament, in an extremely short time. Meetings with French officials from the Ministry of Defense and the DGA, as well as with the industrialists concerned by the file, have been increasing in recent days, so as to be able to present a complete file to the state authorities on time. for validation in what would be, according to the specialized Greek press, the most important effort in favor of Defense and Greece's deterrence capabilities since 1974.
On the French side, President Emmanuel Macron would have taken charge of the file, in particular concerning the budgetary aspects, allowing, it seems, to find firm agreements with Athens. Thus, the 18 or 20 Rafale acquired by Greece would be sold for around 1 billion euros, which is a particularly low price, even taking into account the 8 second-hand aircraft sold free by France. We can deduce from this envelope that all the training of Greek airmen and ground teams will be carried out by the Air Force and possibly the Naval Aeronautics deployed on site in Greece in application of the Defense Treaty, of so as to allow the rapid entry into service of the Greek squadron. Information about the possible return of the Belh @ rra in the Franco-Greek negotiations, if they were expected, remain very fragmented. However, we can expect that, as in the case of the Rafales, the presidential intervention in the case has made it possible to re-allocate the costs of development concerning the specific requests of Greece, so as to lower the price. at an acceptable level for Athens.
As we had already discussed in a previous article referring to second-hand Rafale to Greece, the drop in the final price, whether the Rafale contract or the 2 Belh @ rra frigates, does not imply no constraints on the budget of the French State, or taxpayers. This subject was dealt with in depth in 2018 during the study on the application of the “Base Defense” model to Greece, a study which resulted from collaboration with the Defense electoral commission of the New Democracy party. Indeed, tax and social revenues (which apply directly to the State budget which compensates for social deficits each year) linked to the execution of the export contract (s), largely compensate for the State's participation, whether it is direct, or as here, induced by the donation of second-hand air force aircraft which will be replaced by new ones by the extension of future orders.
Be that as it may, the military and industrial cooperation which, it seems, is being set up at the initiative of the two heads of state, is unique in recent European history, which moreover in times of strong tensions like those facing Greece today. If it is likely that some chanceries will take a very negative view of this bilateral initiative, and above all its potential consequences on relations between the European Union and Ankara, it is also possible that other countries, the most exposed such as the Baltic States, Finland or the countries bordering the Black Sea, as well asa certain part of European public opinion, see it as the expected response in terms of reinsurance and deterrence. Even if France has, in fact, only limited conventional means, the determination shown by the Head of State to come alongside his Greek ally, could indeed modify the perception of Europeans concerning the French offer to extend French deterrence to its allies. What to give again, even outside the European institutions, colors to the idea of a European defense going beyond industrial cooperation and NATO arbitration, as scope, without much success so far, by Paris.