The United Kingdom is concerned about Cyprus as the French sign a surprising defense treaty with Greece.
A NEW defense deal between France and Greece could complicate Britain’s role as a peacekeeper in Cyprus.
The deal, which would see Athens purchase French frigates, has already dashed British hopes of selling two cutting-edge Type 31 frigates to the Hellenic fleet. But claims by Greece’s defense minister, Nicolaos Panagiotopoulos, that the treaty would encompass “the full sovereign area” of both countries are more concerning. In a £5 billion deal, Greece will buy three French frigates, with an option for a fourth, as well as Rafale fighter jets, according to the Franco-Greek defense treaty inked on Tuesday.
Britain was on the verge of agreeing to sell the Hellenic fleet a state-of-the-art Type 31 frigate, and had even offered to throw in two Type 21 Duke class frigates, which are slated to be retired next year, for free.
But, more importantly, the accord will see Paris “totally support” Greek territorial claims, which are disputed by Nato member Turkey and have been a source of escalating tensions in recent months.
President Macron has doubled down on goals for Europe to exercise its “strategic autonomy” in response to the Aukus defense pact, which it blames on the US.
Despite Macron’s assurances that he wants to assist Nato rather than weaken it, a comment by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis following the signing of the pact surprised many.
“Our two nations, Greece and France, have already built a very strong partnership,” he continued, “that effectively goes beyond each other’s commitments within the European Union and Nato.”
Germany is thought to be dissatisfied since it relies on Turkey to curb migration and has sold Ankara diesel-electric submarines.
Furthermore, the agreement may exacerbate the divides between EU and Nato interests (of whose 30 members, 22 are also in the EU).
It might also present a difficulty for Britain in Cyprus.
When Cyprus acquired independence in 1960, the United Kingdom became a guarantor of the former colony’s security. This persisted after the island was partitioned by a Turkish invasion.
Its responsibilities are shared with Greece and Turkey.
“We are waiting for more clarity as to what this defence pact could mean in practice,” a Whitehall source said last night, “but, yes, there is scope to be concerned that it may affect the balance in Cyprus.”
Prof. Alessio, maritime security expert. “Brinkwire Summary News.”