French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Feb. 28 that Greece and France would sign a defence collaboration agreement, following reports that Athens would borrow navy frigates from Paris, according to Agence-France-Presse.
“This (broader) agreement will further include a more specific one, to cover the operational needs of the Greek armed forces, notably the navy and more specifically the frigates,” Le Drian said after a meeting with his Greek counterpart Panos Panagiotopoulos.
He said a Franco-Greek committee would be set up to work out the details, but did not specify when the countries would ink the agreement. Le Drian, who also met President Karolos Papoulias, thanked Greece for its contribution to the Mali war effort with four army officers for a European Union training mission in the African country.
“France and Greece have always enjoyed great solidarity during difficult times… and President Hollande’s recent visit here highlighted this privileged partnership,” Le Drian said. On the sidelines of the French president’s visit to Athens earlier this month, a Greek government source provided AFP with details of the loan of the two frigates.
The FREMM-type frigates will be included in the Greek navy and could assist a search for hydrocarbons which Greece hopes to start in coming months, according to the source. Greece is also considering the loan of four navy support aircraft, the source told AFP. Greece has been cutting back on buying arms because of a crushing economic crisis.