Greek parliament on Thursday approved the purchase of 18 French Rafale fighter jets by an overwhelming majority, with only the Communist Party (KKE) and leftist MeRA25 voting against.
The purchase of the jets and compatible air-to-air Meteor missiles are expected set Greece back 2.3 billion euros.
The delivery of the 18 jets – 12 used and six new ones to be constructed by Dassault Aviation – is scheduled to begin by the middle of the year.
The delivery will be completed over two years.
The purchase is being made within the framework of an ambitious armaments plan announced by the government in September for the modernisation of its armed forces over the next five years, amid tension with neighbouring Turkey.
Parliament speaker Konstantinos Tasoulas referred to the wider benefits to society that come with boosting the country’s armed forces.
“Spending on the armed forces is spending on society, because a country that has safeguarded its sovereignty can work on its advancement, on health, education and pensions, and can work on all those peacetime projects that every society dreams of in order to progress,” he said.
Earlier, SYRIZA representative Giorgos Tsipras claimed that the contract agreement was not watertight, but noted “because we are not New Democracy, we will vote in favour with huge reservations and abdicating any responsibility for what this contract may give birth to, the negative results, that is, for the Greek state”.
KKE General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas said the armaments “are primarily related to the needs of NATO’s planning and not to the defence of the borders and the sovereign rights of the Greek people”.
For her part, MeRA 25’s Sofia Sakorafa bemoaned that Greece had “submitted” to demands of “so-called allies, which also happen to be our main suppliers”. This, she said, “cannot be presented as a national policy”.
(A version of this article was originally published by Kathimerini and reproduced by permission.)