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Mitsotakis: New Rafale Aircraft an Example of “Changing and Prospering Greece”

January 19, 2022

ATHENS – The new Rafale fighter jets that arrived in Greece on Wednesday are an example of how Greece is “changing and prospering in all fields,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a speech during a ceremony to receive the first six out of a total of 24 new aircraft ordered from France.

The prime minister also announced that hazard pay for flight and diving personnel will henceforth be exempt from all taxes, adding that this will apply in the armed forces, security forces, fire brigade and coast guard, as well as personnel that provide medical assistance using aircraft.

“This relief corresponds with the fiscal capabilities of the country,” he added.

Mitsotakis stressed that the aircraft had arrived, ready to be deployed “and to guard Greece’s skies”, with fully-trained crews and support staff, 16 months after they were ordered. The next six were due to arrive within 2022, while the third half-dozen scheduled to arrive in 2023, followed by the final six.

“The acquisition of the new fighters is linked to the renewal of our Air Force’s equipment, which has become extremely urgent,” the prime minister said, adding that the deal continued a tradition of Greek-French cooperation in defence that dated back to the restitution of democracy in 1974.

Mitsotakis emphasised that this was a first order geostrategic development that made Greece’s air force one of the strongest in Europe and the Mediterranean, while sealing the defence alliance between Greece and France.

“The new Rafale are ready to take off for a better, more peaceful future for the entire region. They will soon operate next to the new French frigates with which they share weapons and defence systems and have a common operational philosophy,” he said.

“It was and is the conviction of this government that economic and social development must be framed within the protection of security and enhancement of national dignity,” Mitsotakis underlined, adding that for Greece “every strengthening of defence is a projection of peace”.

“In the 21st century there is no room for either the blatant misrepresentation of history and geography, nor arbitrary fireworks. The replies to these come from international law and our national vigilance. The message of the times is truth and understanding based on international legality, and especially in our region on the basis of the law of the sea. This is the path on which Greece and Europe walk. This is what is protected by the new Rafale, for the acquisition of which we do not need anyone’s permission. With the same determination that the country closes the door to all threats, it keeps open the windows for dialogue,” the prime minister said.

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