ATHENS – Greece's 2.9-billion ($3.35 billion) deal to buy three French warships, and option for a fourth to deal with growing Turkish aggression drew opposition from critical lawmakers who said it was too expensive, even at the cost of mutual defense.
The agreement includes a pact in which each country would go to the other if attacked, seen directly solely for now at Turkey as France is not facing belligerence from anyone.
The deal easily passed Parliament with 191 votes in the 300-member body, with the 158 lawmakers from the ruling New Democracy joined by those from the center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) and nationalist Greek Solution.
The major opposition SYRIZA, as well as the KKE Communits and MeRA25 party all voted against in symbolic defiance and critics used the debate in Parliament to lash out at Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for making the deal.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras imagined coffins of the remains of Greek soldiers sent in a hypothetical situation to Africa to aid French military missions against terrorists as he objected to the mutual defense pact, said Kathimerini.
Mitsotakis retored immediately. “Your populist statements about returning coffins draped with the Greek flag is the most despicable thing I have heard in this room since I became Prime Minister,” he said.
Tsipras earlier accused the government of “trading in bogus patriotism” without noting while when he was in power that he sought a greater American military presence after he said he would end it, and kept Greece in NATO after saying that he wouldn't.
Mitsotakis and Tsipras swapped shots about whose idea of defending the country was in the best national interest, the Premier saying he brought deterrence against Turkey.
He also dismissed SYRIZA accusations that the mutual defense provisions do not cover Greece’s continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone, saying no such treaties exist internationally and that the pact was aimed squarely at Turkey planning to drill for oil and gas off Greek islands in the seas.