Greek PM announces arms purchases as Turkey tension rises

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ATHENS, Sept 12, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos
Mitsotakis on Saturday announced a “robust” arms purchase programme
and an overhaul of the country’s military amid tension with Turkey in
the eastern Mediterranean.

“The time has come to reinforce the armed forces… these
initiatives constitute a robust programme that will become a national
shield,” the PM said in a keynote address in the northern city of
Thessaloniki.

Mitsotakis said Greece would acquire 18 French-made Rafale
warplanes in addition to four multi-purpose frigates and four navy
helicopters whilst also hiring 15,000 new troops and pouring resources
into the national arms industry and cyber-attack defence.

The programme, which includes upgrades of another existing four
frigates, is also designed to create thousands of jobs, he said.

Turkey in August sent an exploration ship and a small navy flottila
to conduct seismic research in waters which Greece considers its own
under postwar treaties.

Greece responded by shadowing the Turkish flotilla with its own
warships, and by staging naval exercises with several EU allies and
the United Arab Emirates in its own show of force.

Turkey “threatens” Europe’s eastern border and “undermines”
regional security, Mitsotakis said Saturday.