Alexis Tsipras defended his government’s decision to upgrade the Greek F-16 fleet in a speech to parliament about his recent visit to the U.S., and his meeting with President Trump.
The Greek PM said that the cost of the upgrade will be up to 1.1 billion euros over the next 10 years, and that there will not be any offset agreements between Greece and the USA.
Replying to a question asked by the leader of Potami, Stavros Theodoarakis, Tsipras said that the upgrading of the F-16s is of paramount importance for the Hellenic Air Force, and its deterrent capabilities.
“The reason for the decision has to do with the gradual aging of our aircraft fleet. If we do not act now…the Air Force will lose much of its deterrent power,” Tsipras said.
He noted that if Athens decided to delay the decision, this would have raised the cost of future upgrading.
At the same time, he revealed that there would be no offset agreements for the upgrade. He claimed that offset agreements struck in the past, have not benefited the Greek economy and its armed forces, but instead they benefited the middleman and the arms dealers.
He also underlined that the cost is already budgeted and included in Greece’s medium-term financial program, and therefore does not constitute a “new expense”.
The Greek premier denied reports that the cost of the upgrade would reach 2.4 billion dollars, saying that this figure referred to the upgrading of the whole F-16 fleet.
He also added that there is still no final agreement with the U.S., and that Greece has made the request, and that a negotiation is under way.
On his meeting with President Trump, Tsipras said that “for the first time, we heard the new US president speak publicly about the need to ease the Greek debt.”
He also said that he was encouraged by the US President’s positive remarks on the revival of the Greek economy.