Greek claims that France has its back likely to irritate Turkey

France will come to the aid of Greece in the event of a war with Turkey under the terms of a new defence pact, the Greek prime minister has claimed in remarks likely to exacerbate military tensions in the Mediterranean.

yriakos Mitsotakis told Greek MPs yesterday that the mutual defence clause in a military cooperation deal with Paris finalised last month was designed to deter Turkey from using an escalating maritime territorial dispute between the two as an excuse for war.

“For the first time it is clearly stipulated that there will be military assistance in the event of a third party attacking one of the two states,” he said to parliament ahead of a vote to ratify the deal.

“And we all know who is threatening whom with a casus belli (cause for war) in the Mediterranean.”

France and Greece agreed a deal that included the purchase of three frigates for €3bn in late September. The agreement includes a clause which states the countries will come to each other’s aid “with all appropriate means at their disposal, and if necessary with the use of armed force if they jointly ascertain that an armed attack is taking place against the territory of one of the two.”

French president Emmanual Macron’s office at the time explicitly denied the agreement targeted Turkey and insisted it was in line with existing Nato commitments.

But Mr Mitsotakis explicitly referred to the danger of an intra-alliance conflict when asked why such a clause was necessary.

“Does Article 5 apply in the case of an attack by a Nato member? I’m not sure Nato has ever been very clear on that issue.”

Turkey condemned the pact as a breach of international law that would threaten rather than straighten security in the eastern Mediterranean.

“Greece’s policy of armament as well as isolation and alienation of Turkey, instead of cooperation, is a problematic policy, which will threaten regional peace and stability and undermine not only itself but also the EU, which Greece is a member of,” Tanju Bilgic, a spokesperson for the Turkish foreign ministry, said on October 1.

Greece and Turkey are locked in a dispute over maritime borders amid a dash for development of potential gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean. The quarrel led to a tense maritime standoff last year that raised fears of war between the two Nato allies.

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