The “war” over the Greek-German cooperation agreement

From Savvas D. Vlassis

Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Federal Parliament (Bundestag) will discuss the latest developments in the Southeast Mediterranean and the Aegean today in a meeting with the members of the Standing Committee on National Defense & Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Parliament. The meeting confirms the convergence between Athens and Berlin on broader issues, which is observed especially after the change of government in Germany.

As we pointed out on the occasion of Chancellor Soltz’s visit to Athens on October 27, the issue of concluding a cooperation agreement in Defense and Security, which is currently being processed, has also been put on the bilateral agenda. Despite keeping a low profile, there is a preparatory phase, of which today’s meeting with the representatives of the Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee can be considered a part.

It is recalled that similar moves existed before the “Strategic Partnership for Defense and Security Cooperation” Agreement, signed by Mitsotakis and Macron on September 28, 2021. Two months before, in July 2021, a group of 4 French MPs had visited Greece and 3 senators, who had meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs responsible for European Affairs and the Prime Minister’s diplomatic adviser, while they had also exchanged views with Greek MPs of the same Committee that is meeting today with the German colleagues. As the French embassy announced at the time, the relevant consultations “confirmed that Greece and France share an identical view of the security stakes in the Eastern Mediterranean. This common view leads to the strengthening of the strategic relationship between the two countries, in all its dimensions”. Similar announcements, in lower tones, are expected after today’s meeting with the German parliamentarians.

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In Greece, the journalistic interest had “interpreted” Chancellor Soltz’s visit through arbitrary assumptions about claiming a piece of the “pie” of the armament programs, due to related activity in Greece in recent years. The scenario was strengthened by the postponement of the notification of the competent Committee of the Parliament for a series of armament programs, among which there were some concerning German weapons systems.

In fact, the emergence of Greece as an energy provider for Europe in general and Germany in particular has a major role in the prospect of an agreement for a closer bilateral relationship, and this was the focus of the Mitsotakis – Soltz discussions. Despite this, the perspective of cooperation in Defense and Security is included in the whole framework, as a natural extension of the role that Greece assumes over time, becoming an energy hub and provider of Europe. In the defense sector, the approach does not concern the oversimplified for widespread consumption scenario of the “plasier” chancellor who comes to extract programs of several billions from the Greek prime minister.

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