It is observed that Greece has been in an increasing armament effort in recent years and this situation has increased with the Russia-Ukraine War. It is seen that Greece, which has been in an economic depression for a long time, has seen a serious increase in defense expenditures despite many economic tests in recent times. So that; Defense expenditures, which were 4.8 billion dollars in 2015, increased to 8 billion dollars in 2021.
It is a serious question mark how the expenditures of the Greek defense industry, which has been under the influence of economic depression for years, have increased so much in recent years. This situation can be explained by three main reasons. The first is the privatization of many state-owned and bankrupt industries after 2020 and their opening to foreign investors. Second, the Greek Ministry of Defense overhauled its armament program. The third reason is to cooperate with important actors in this field.
In this context, partnerships with the United States of America (USA) are at the forefront of collaborations that stand out in terms of defense. It is known that Greece, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), has a key regional role. Especially as a result of the recent developments in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, it is seen that the USA has improved its military relations with Greece. Russia’s aggressive attitude towards Ukraine is also considered as a contributing factor to this situation.
In this context, it is known that the Joint Military Cooperation Agreement with the USA has been extended for another five years. In addition, while cooperation agreements with Washington including the modernization of many military equipment were on the agenda; There is also an agreement on F-35 fighter jets. On the other hand, it is known that in the last period, in the shadow of the Russia-Ukraine War, the USA has almost made a mass in the Alexandroupoli Port of Greece.
Among the states with which military cooperation is established, there are countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Egypt; The recent military contracts with Israel are also noteworthy. In this context, an agreement was signed with Elbit Systems, an Israeli-based defense industry company, for the training of Greek Air Force pilots. In addition, it is known that a separate agreement was signed for the lease of Spike-NLOS missiles and four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
One of the most striking countries among the countries with which cooperation agreements were made was France. Although the military cooperation of France with Greece is not a new situation, it is seen that the recent agreements and the allocated budget have reached large dimensions. The cost of buying 24 Rafale fighter jets from France was announced as 11 billion dollars for Greece. With an agreement signed in September 2021, cooperation in the field of military and defense was ensured and it was agreed on the supply of new weapons and equipment in the future.
On the other hand, it is known that the two member states of the European Union (EU) and NATO have decided to deepen and advance the military partnership. Undoubtedly, this situation can be described as a reflection of the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. Because, bringing the security concerns of Greece to the agenda in the Eastern Mediterranean is mostly beneficial for France.
In addition to these, it has been observed that military agreements with Germany have been made recently. So that; As a result of the visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Athens in the last quarter of 2022, a contract was signed between the parties on the supply of tanks. In this context, it is known that 40 German Marder tanks were delivered to Greece. Again, according to this agreement, it was decided that Greece would provide weapons aid to Ukraine in return for weapons to be purchased from Germany. Thus, it was decided that in exchange for Germany’s supply of infantry fighting vehicles to Greece, Greece would deliver the old Soviet weapons to Ukraine.
In addition, in Greece, which produced its first UAV in 2022, it has come to the fore that a UAV named “Griffin” will be built at the beginning of 2023, according to the memorandum signed between the Greek Aerospace Industries, Thessaloniki Aristotle University, Thrace Democritus University, Thessaly University and Patras University. In this context, it is aimed to produce a more advanced vehicle with the knowledge obtained from the first model Archytas.
From this point of view, it can be evaluated that Greece has turned the developments into an advantage by taking advantage of the current global situation. It is also understood that Greece, which wants to develop its defense industry, which has been missing for many years, has benefited from the momentum gained. Moreover, it can be stated that Athens tended to an armament frenzy due to the problems it had with its close neighbors and the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean.
It should be noted that; The Russia-Ukraine War turned the balances upside down in the Balkans. Being aware of this, it can be argued that Greece wants to be positioned as a regional leader in the new order. Therefore, it can be evaluated that Greece is acting in line with this goal.
As a result, it can be expected that Greece will continue this armament effort in the future. Although it took this step with the support of the West, it is worth noting that its neighbors in the Balkans were uncomfortable with Athens’ armament moves. Moreover, in this period of transition from one crisis to another, it is a matter of debate how much the Greek economy can bear the cost of armament.
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