Greece’s army is set to receive a €1 billion upgrade, a move that has been fast-tracked to meet the country’s immediate land, naval and air forces’ needs.
The decision was made on Monday during a meeting of the Parliament’s Arms Committee following a confidential briefing attended by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, Hellenic Armed Forces General Staff (GEETHA) chief, Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis, and the heads of the General Army Command (GES), the Air Force General Staff (GEA) and the Hellenic Navy (GEN).
The upgrade is no coincidence; it comes amid rising tensions with neighbouring Turkey.
Matters reached new heights over the weekend, when Turkish politicians challenged Greece’s sovereignty in the Aegean yet again.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan commented on the two Greek soldiers still in custody in Turkey, and linked their fate to the eight Turkish servicemen who fled to Greece in 2016 after the coup attempt, and whom Ankara wants extradited. He slammed Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for allegedly going back on his word to extradite the servicemen, giving weight to the suggestion by government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos that Turkey is using the two soldiers for political reasons.
Greece is looking to finalize the defence deal by 30 April in a bid to stay within budget, and not exceed the €1.1- billion ceiling set by the government.
Among the priorities is an upgrade by the US to 85 of Greece’s F-16 fighter jets, and the maintenance of its French-made Mirage-200s jets. While the navy’s fleet of MEKO frigates need an immediate update.