Athens hails security deal, saying it gives ‘new substance’ to defence of European interests in the Mediterranean. Athens, Greece – Greece on Thursday ratified a mutual defence pact with France, the first between two NATO members. The two countries are already bound to help each other from an attack originating outside the alliance. But the Strategic Partnership on Defence and Security for the first time joins two NATO members to support one another from an attack originating inside the alliance. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hailed the agreement as the cornerstone of an independent European defence policy. “The defence of European interests in the Mediterranean now acquires new substance,” Mitsotakis told parliament. “If attacked, our country will have at its side the most powerful military on the continent, the sole European nuclear power.” Article 2 of the Partnership states that the pair will assist each other “with all the means at their disposal, in the event that armed force is needed, if they both ascertain that an attack is taking place against the territory of either.” Turkey tensions Greece’s main security threat comes from fellow NATO member Turkey. The two nearly came to open hostilities in August last year as they battled over their conflicting claims to the Eastern Mediterranean. They nearly went to war over the Imia islets in the Aegean in 1996, and over oil and gas exploration in 1987. The greatest threat of war during the last century came in 1974, when Turkey militarily intervened in Cyprus, in response to a brief Greek-backed coup. “We’ve lived with NATO’s unwillingness [to deal with Turkey] since the 1950s, because Article 5 doesn’t cover threats among alliance members,” said Athanasios Platias, professor of strategy at the University of Piraeus. According to Mitsotakis, Greece “has been negotiating since 1974 … for such a treaty,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hailed the agreement as the cornerstone of an independent European defence policy [Costas Baltas/Reuters] The pact is Greece’s second formal security guarantee against Turkey. It signed a mutual defence pact with the United Arab Emirates last November. Turkish-French relations have also deteriorated since Ankara assumed a military role in the Libyan civil war in October 2019. France sees Turkey as a rival for influence in North Africa. Mitsotakis and French president Emmanuel Macron oversaw the signing of the Partnership on September 28. They also announced Greece will buy up to four French-built Belharra frigates and up to four French GoWind corvettes with state-of-the-art radar and hypersonic missiles for up to $5bn. Greece has also committed to buy 24 French Rafale fighter jets for $2.5bn. There has been no official reaction about the Partnership from Turkey. Oil and gas dispute Greece and Turkey have increasingly clashed over rights to undersea oil and gas. This year they resumed exploratory talks to delimit their continental shelf, which bestows a form of commercial sovereignty over mineral wealth under the sea bed. But while those talks drag on, this is the space where Greek and Turkish clashes are most likely to occur. Last month, Greece filed a formal complaint with Turkey over the alleged harassment of the Nautical Geo, a Maltese-flagged survey vessel. It was mapping the seafloor southeast of Crete to plot the course of East Med, a natural gas pipeline Greece, Cyprus and Israel agreed to build in January last year to carry Israeli gas to Europe. Greek diplomatic sources, speaking to Al Jazeera, alleged a Turkish naval ship harassed the Nautical Geo “repeatedly, for a period of 4-5 days”. The Greek-French Partnership refers to an attack on the “territory” o . . . read the full article here.