Leopard tanks in the foreground

The plan for a production line of the German Lynx armored fighting vehicle technology and maintenance of the Leopard main battle tanks in Greece will be presented early next week (Monday or Tuesday) by the Minister of National Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos to the relevant committee of the Parliament.

Vasilis Nedos

The presentation of the plan just 24 hours before the arrival of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Athens (October 26-27) aims to make it clear that in Athens, despite the difficult conditions, there is a will to promote a program that will bring both countries in close defense cooperation for the first time in twenty years. However, the implementation of such a program faces several difficulties.

In recent months, the Ministry of National Defense has been making an intensive effort to bridge several serious procedural issues, with Mr. Panagiotopoulos having spent a lot of time on the issue, mainly responding to the expressed need of the GES for TOMA, in order to – finally – replace them the obsolete M-113s. The total cost of such an agreement (upgrading the Leopards and supplying the Lynx) could range between 3.1 and 3.4 billion euros, not including the costs of potential offsets or compromises with the litigation that has already the Greek State with KMW. From the Greek side, however, repayment facilities were requested in case such an agreement becomes possible.

The issue has, primarily, a geopolitical dimension, as Germany has largely been left out of the armaments of recent years, with France and the USA being the two main countries with which Athens has made agreements. Although the agenda of the talks has not yet been made known, it is not excluded that the two leaders, as part of their contacts, will also sign a memorandum or declaration of intent for closer cooperation between Greece and Germany in the field of defense.

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It is considered extremely likely that Germany’s intention to supply 100 more Marder-type TOMAs to Greece will be announced. However, also yesterday from Berlin (where the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias met on the sidelines of the Conference on the Western Balkans with his counterpart Analena Burbock) deputy government representative Wolfgang Buchner expressed some dissatisfaction with the Turkish threats. “We always make it clear that we do not consider proper threats and unfriendly statements towards neighbors. The government makes this clear at every opportunity,” Mr. Buchner said.

According to some sources, the negotiation with the German companies was treated with great caution due to the persons who initially appeared to represent them. In addition, there are pending in the courts a number of State actions for damages against KMW and Rheinmetall for delays and non-compliance and for active bribery and money laundering (based on convictions in Germany) and, conversely, appeals by the Germans in an arbitral tribunal. The same sources also express concern about the role of tanks in modern warfare.

Finally, it is noted that yesterday Mr. Panagiotopoulos spoke by phone with his Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz about the cooperation between the two countries. Although no official lead has been released, it is abundantly clear that there is uneasiness in Athens at Mr Gantz’s decision to postpone his visit to Kalamata, shortly before he announces his move to Ankara next week.

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