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Monday, September 07, 2020, 20:22
Greece wants to bolster defense sector amid tensions with Turkey
By Reuters
Monday, September 07, 2020, 20:22 By Reuters

In this photo provided on Aug 31, 2020 by the Greek Defense Ministry, warships from Greece, Italy, Cyprus and France, participate in a joint military exercise which was held from 26-28 of August, south of Turkey in eastern Mediterranean sea. Turkey on Aug 31, accused Greece of "piracy" and warned it will stand up to Athens' alleged efforts to militarize islands near its coast. (GREEK DEFENSE MINISTRY VIA AP)

ATHENS - Greece plans to acquire arms, bolster up its army staff and revamp its defense industry, its government spokesman said on Monday, as tensions with NATO ally Turkey over energy resources in the east Mediterranean grow.

Greece, which emerged from its third international bailout in 2018 and has been struggling with the economic impact of the novel coronavirus, wants to spend part of its multi-billion euro cash reserves on its defense sector

Greece, which emerged from its third international bailout in 2018 and has been struggling with the economic impact of the novel coronavirus, wants to spend part of its multi-billion euro cash reserves on its defense sector.

ALSO READ: Greece, Turkey agree to talks over Eastern Mediterranean, NATO says

“We are in talks with allies to boost our armed forces,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters, adding that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will outline his plans during an annual economic policy speech on Saturday.

A Greek government official told Reuters last week that Greece is in talks with France and other countries over the acquisition of fighter jets. Greece has also been trying for more than a decade to consolidate and privatize its loss making defense companies.

Mitsotakis will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Corsica on Thursday, before a Southern European leaders summit (MED 7), and will discuss the issue, Petsas said. The French Presidency has not confirmed the meeting.

ALSO READ: Turkey extends exploration work in disputed east Mediterranean area

Turkey and EU member Greece vehemently disagree over the extent of their continental shelves. Tensions rose last month after Ankara sent an exploration vessel into disputed waters in the region, accompanied by warships, days after Greece signed a maritime deal with Egypt that angered Turkey.

Ankara has since been extending the vessel’s work in the wider region, issuing advisories which Athens calls illegal.

READ MORE: Greece plans to extend its western territorial waters

The Greek conservative leader discussed the latest twists in the row with European Council President Charles Michel, who chairs summits of EU leaders. Michel will visit Athens on Sept 15, Petsas said.


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