Monday, November 23, 2009

Continuity in the New Frigate Purchase

DefenceNet reports that Minister of Defence Venizelos met with his French counterpart, Herve Morin, today who is on an official visit to Greece. The meeting mainly focussed on current Greek acquisition programmes.

Specifically the new frigate requirement was discussed about which Minister Venizelos stated: “we expressed our will to continue negotiations under the conditions that there will be the greatest possible Greek involvement, technology transfer and the biggest possible Greek added value”.

With regards to the total cost of the purchase the minister stated that this has not yet been determined and that it is subject to negotiations. With regards to the other two procurement programmes in which the French are involved, that of the NH-90 purchase and the anticipated Super Puma SAR helicopter order, the minister stated that initiatives will be undertaken to tackle the current problems and for finding commonly beneficial solutions.

Aids to Minister Venizelos connected the two helicopter programmes, implying that the sooner the French side finds solutions to the NH-90 problems, the sooner negotiations will progress on the purchase of 15 Super Pumas. Also, it is said that the French Minister of Defence admitted that the UAE also has made complaints about their NH-90s.

With regards to the new fighter programme Minister Venizelos made clear that this case has not yet been looked at. The French minister stated that France sees the Greek Frigate programme as one in the framework of industrial cooperation between the Greek shipyards and the French government which will include technology transfer. He also announced that within the next months an agreement will be signed between Greece and France which will record the entire range of defence and military cooperation on a bilateral and international level. The aim is the development of a common European defence architecture.

In relation to the issue of illegal immigration and the continuous flow of illegal immigrants from the Turkish coast the French Minister declared that he is in favour “of a common surveillance area from the Baltic to the Mediterranean and the Aegean through the creation of a network that will allow us to know what is happening at any time and to allocate resources accordingly”.

This last statement by the French Minister shows understanding for the problem faced by Greece and willingness to help countries that act as entry points for illegal immigrants to the EU.

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