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Politics

In 3 Years, Greece Spent 15 Billion Euros for Defense Against Turkey

ATHENS – Greece has added 15 billion euros ($16.24 billion) in weapons in further building an arsenal as Turkey has upped provocations and threatened war, Deputy Defence Minister Nikos Hardalias said.

He told the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA) that it included buying French-made Rafale fighter jets and warships, along with making a mutual defense agreement that riled Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The expenditures also were for adding more troops although Greece has mandatory military service in most cases and that in 2023 the Navy will get three more anti-submarine helicopters and the Air Force F-16 upgrades.

In total, for the period 2020-2023, defence spending will exceed 20 billion euros ($21.65 billion) or equivalent to an entire year of tourism revenues, going to defense while the government said it can’t afford to cut a 24 percent Valued Added Tax (VAT) on food.

“I will not only tell you about the bilateral alliance with France, which even includes a mutual defence assistance clause, about the relations with the United States, which are stronger than ever, about our close ties with Israel, or about the excellent cooperation we have with Egypt,” he said.

He said he also expects that this year the European Union will add a defense component although the 27-member bloc has no military capacity and relies on NATO and diplomacy instead.

Turkey’s unrelenting belligerence is a big problem though, he said, especially Erdogan’s constant talk of attacking Greece “suddenly one night” and demanding Greece take troops off Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast.

“We observe unprecedented revisionism and challenges, combined with dangerous practices on the ground. On our part, we are not concerned on whether the escalation of this attitude, especially at the level of rhetoric, is related to internal political expediencies of the Turkish government in view of elections.”

He added: “Nor do we try to guess what is hidden behind each new display of anti-Greek impudence on the opposite side of the Aegean … we steadily continue our planning and always are ready for any scenario, including the worst possible one.”

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