Presence of the Minister of Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos at the launching of the Admiral Ronarc’h of the French Navy and a meeting with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Sebastian Lecorny

Presence of the Minister of Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos at the launching of the Admiral Ronarc’h of the French Navy and a meeting with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Sebastian Lecorny

The Minister of National Defense Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos attended today, Monday, November 7, 2022, the launching ceremony of the first Defense and Intervention frigate of the French Navy, which took place at the Naval Group facilities, in Lorient, France.

The Minister referred to the strong, timeless ties between Greece and France based on common values, freedom, democracy and the rule of law and underlined the strategic nature of the two countries’ defense cooperation, for the defense of their sovereignty and sovereign rights , based on the rules of International Law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Mr. Panagiotopoulos pointed out the contribution of bilateral cooperation to stability and prosperity in the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean, in the course of implementing the strategic vision towards European strategic autonomy and in strengthening the transatlantic alliance.

The Minister welcomed the cooperation of the Naval Group with Greek companies of the Defense Industry, within the framework of the Strategic Partnership between Greece and France, and was informed about the progress of the construction works of the first Greek frigate.

On the sidelines of the launch ceremony, the Minister of National Defense held a bilateral meeting with his French counterpart Mr. Sebastien Lécornu, during which issues of mutual interest were discussed, with an emphasis on the security situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, the developments in Ukraine and the further strengthening of bilateral defense cooperation. In addition, he had a meeting with officials of the French Navy and was informed about their work.

In his statement to ERT, Mr. Panagiotopoulos emphasized the following:

NIKOLAOS PANAGIOTOPOULOS: I had the pleasure today and the honor to accept the invitation of my French counterpart Sébastien Lecorny, to attend the launching ceremony – tropon tina – of the first frigate of the type FDIof the first Belh@rra that is, launched on behalf of the French Navy.

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As is known, the second frigate of this type will be Greek. After the nice event that took place and the installations that we did, I also had the opportunity to tour the frigate with my French counterpart and her people”Naval Group”, which gave us a lot of interesting technical information about the awesome capabilities of this ship. I got inside, of course there is still a lot of work to be done, but it is slowly being completed, it is only when you tour the interior of the boat that you understand its size and capabilities.

The prototype vessel, the type frigate FDI, is preparing for the French Navy, but the first Greek Navy is following close behind. Indeed, the experience was very important, among other things, this relationship demonstrates in the most emphatic way that the bilateral strategic relationship with an emphasis in the field of Defense between Greece and France is growing and strengthening. A very important day indeed for the Hellenic Armed Forces as the final phase of the construction of the frigates now begins Belh@rra.

JOURNALIST: Mr. Minister, we heard in your speech that you talk about challenges in the Mediterranean, that Greece and France stand together in the face of these challenges and oppose any form of revisionism…

NIKOLAOS PANAGIOTOPOULOS: Exactly! Not only Greece and France, the entire European Union, all of NATO with their stance in the case of, say, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, does nothing but condemn and stand against any form of revisionism. Everyone without exception! Therefore it is good that this message goes in all directions.

In any case, however, Greece and France have their own special alliance relationship. As you know in the Defense Agreement that we signed last summer, among the other provisions there is also the mutual defense assistance clause, recently through the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the French emphasized that whatever happens this mutual defense assistance clause will be applied if required and therefore over on this solid foundation, we build and do even more. I would like to emphasize – because they may not know this – that in the context of defense cooperation between Greece and France, until 2025, 203 different activities, joint trainings, exercises, etc. will take place. This number alone, I think, is enough to demonstrate beyond doubt the breadth and depth of this defense relationship.

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JOURNALIST: At the defense diplomatic level, we see that Greece and France are moving forward as in the defense sector. The probability of its activation option for the fourth Belh@rra or even also for the corvette program how likely is it?

NIKOLAOS PANAGIOTOPOULOS: We are currently preparing to receive two more Rafalewhich will arrive within the next few days and will be installed at their base, the 114th Fighter Wing in Tanagra.

But at the same time, I would say that we are waiting and we will receive very soon the final proposals of the companies that are interested in the corvette program or the activation of it respectively optionthat is, of the alternative, fourth acquisition Belh@rra in the original agreement. In order to decide, however, we must have the final proposals in our hands.

I believe that they must answer some basic questions, especially regarding the financing and participation of the Greek shipyards. We want the corvettes to be built in Greek shipyards, and once these questions are answered, we have no choice but to make the final choice, something that will be done fairly soon, I believe.


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