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Greece’s lawmakers ratify defense pact with France

Greece’s lawmakers on Thursday ratified a landmark defense pact with France that includes a mutual assistance clause in case of an armed attack against either country; a pact that has irked fellow NATO member Turkey but also drew criticism by the NATO itself.

191 lawmakers from ruling New Democracy, opposition parties Movement for Change (KINAL/PAS)K) and Greek Solution approved the agreement, as well as independent MP Konstantina Adamou approved the agreement.

109 MPs from main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, Communist Party (KKE) and MeRA25 rejected the agreement.

The five-year agreement was announced in Paris last week by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and French President Emmanuel Macron. Greece also announced plans to buy three French frigates, a deal due to be finalized by the end of the year.

“For the first time, an explicit and unequivocal military assistance clause is provided in the case of a third party attack on one of the two states,” Mitsotakis told lawmakers. “We all know … who is threatening whom with a casus belli (a cause for war) in the eastern Mediterranean.”

The agreement was opposed by the main left-wing opposition party Syriza, which argued that it imposes too many concessions on Athens including the risk of involvement in France’s overseas military operations.

Greece is pinning much of its defense strategy on close military cooperation with France and the United States as it remains locked in a volatile dispute with neighbor Turkey over sea and airspace boundaries.

Athens is currently concluding negotiations with the U.S. to extend and possibly increase the scale of a Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement that allows U.S. troops access to Greek military bases.

Turkey says it has been unfairly excluded from sea and seabed mineral access in the eastern Mediterranean in a dispute that triggered a tense naval standoff with Greece last year and renewed tension in recent weeks, associated press noted in a report.

On Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg appeared to be critical of European defense initiatives that aren’t within NATO.

“What I don’t believe in is efforts to try to do something outside the NATO framework or compete with or duplicate NATO, because NATO remains the cornerstone, the bedrock for European security, and also actually for North American security,” Stoltenberg said in a speech without directly mentioning the defense deal between Greece and France.

More on Greek-French Defense Pact here.

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