The agreement I signed a few days ago in Paris, together with the Minister of National Defence Nikos Panagiotopoulos, in the presence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the French President Emmanuel Macron, is the successful culmination of the negotiations that I started with my French counterpart immediately after assuming office two years ago.
This success is the result of a collective effort under the leadership of the Prime Minister. It is yet another major step in forging the long-standing alliance ties between our two countries, which are now becoming strategic in nature.
These ties can be traced back to the time of the Greek Revolution and more recently to the special relationship cultivated by Konstantinos Karamanlis first with General de Gaulle and then with Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.
The agreement offers our country three advantages that fundamentally improve the environment in which we are called to pursue our foreign policy.
First, Greece is shielded even further against any external military threat.
The mutual assistance clause indicates that if Greece is attacked on its territory by any opponent, then the strongest military force in the European Union, the only one with a nuclear deterrent, will be on our side.
The importance lies not only in assistance, but also in deterrence.
Any potential opponent of Greece will think twice before deciding to use force against it.
However, I must make it clear that this agreement is not directed against anyone. It is purely defensive in nature and comes to reinforce the similar agreement I signed a year ago with another strategic partner, the United Arab Emirates.
Second, the international status of Greece and our positions are strengthened with regard to addressing challenges in the wider region.
Through close cooperation in the field of foreign policy and regular coordination of positions between the two countries, starting from the Foreign Ministers, the positions of Greece acquire even greater prominence, as well as a different kind of power.
I must also recall that France is a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council and plays a pivotal role in the issues of Security and Defence Policy in the European Union.
Through this strategic relationship, Greece is upgrading its geostrategic position in the Mediterranean region, the Middle East, the Gulf, as well as sub-Saharan Africa, where France continues to maintain strong footholds.
Our country is therefore emerging as a potential bridge between these regions and Europe.
Thirdly, Greece, after a decade of introversion, is returning dynamically to building the European vision.
Greece is no longer the problematic country that threatens the European project. Instead, it contributes to the strengthening of European Defence and through it to the European integration policy, which has always been the goal and vision of New Democracy.
The agreement with France is an important step in the development of European Defence, in order for Europe to be able to successfully meet security challenges.
Europe cannot afford to remain a spectator in the face of threats against its values. Nor is the European Union merely an economic and bureaucratic partnership.
It is the largest project of a voluntary union of states in the history of humankind and in this light, the EU should be actively involved in international affairs.
At the same time, the Greece-France Agreement improves the burden sharing between the United States of America and Europe. It strengthens the transatlantic link, as well as the European pillar of NATO.
Therefore, the Greece-France agreement on establishing a strategic partnership is not merely another bilateral treaty between European partners. It is a significant agreement that will influence the shaping of our country’s future Foreign and Defence Policy. Ultimately, it is a piece of the puzzle of the Common European Vision.