France-Greece frigate deal is "on" as Athens declines US offer

Athens has signed a deal with Paris to buy three French Belhara class frigates for €3billion
Athens has signed a deal with Paris to buy three French Belhara class frigates for €3billion © Naval Group

Greece will honour a deal to buy three frigates from France after a competing offer from the United States threatened to overturn the contract.


France's armed forces ministry said Saturday: "Since we have been in discussion with the Greeks, the American offer is no longer on the table... We also signed the contract with the Greeks. It was initialled a few days ago." 

Meanwhile, a source at Greece's defence ministry said "the agreement is on and moving forward".

The announcements come as the US State Department said Friday it had approved the sale for $6.9 billion of four Lockheed Martin combat frigates, known as multi-mission surface combatant ships.

The announcement suggested France faced a fresh arms deal threat after the US undercut a massive submarine contract with Australia in a shock announcement that ruptured relations between Washington and Paris.

US warned France to avoid repeat of AUKUS fiasco

France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia and labelled the move a "stab in the back" by an ally when Canberra ditched a longstanding deal worth billions of euros to buy conventional French submarines for US nuclear-powered vessels.

Later in September, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis sealed a memorandum of understanding with French President Emmanuel Macron to buy three and possibly four French Belharra frigates for three billion euros.

However France said that this time -- unlike for the Australian submarine deal -- the US had given Paris advance warning of its announcement.

Frances armed forces ministry said "They [US] wrote to us, saying that 'as part of good relations, following the AUKUS problem, we are warning you'," it said, using the name given to the Australia-UN-US pact that sunk France's submarine deal with Canberra.

"There is no inclination [on their part] to go further," the ministry added.

The French ships are to be built by Naval Group for delivery to the Greek navy in 2025 and 2026.

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