The diplomatic agenda charged with senior ministers includes several meetings with French and American officials, but also renewed efforts to engage in regions in which Greece has so far shown little interest.
Defense collaboration with France and the United States has grown even closer, with Greece either commanding or planning to order advanced defense systems from both to achieve parity with Turkey’s nominal ally.
Foreign Ministers Nikos Dendias and Defense Ministers Nikos Panagiotopoulos will travel to the seaside town of Lorient, in western France, to attend the first official ceremony to kick off the construction of the first of three high-tech FDI (defense and intervention frigates) which should be expensive. 3 billion, with an option for a fourth. The price includes weapon systems and ship support for three years. The first two frigates will be delivered to the Hellenic Navy in 2025 and the third in 2026.
Earlier, Dendias will be in nearby Brest to attend the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers, the first under France’s six-month tenure as the rotating presidency of the European Council.
Panagiotopoulos will then travel to the United States to meet with his counterpart, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The talks come after the US Congress vote on the defense budget, which included an amendment that explicitly referred to the supply of more weapons to Greece. The latter has a strong interest in the F-35 stealth multirole fighter jet, but has yet to secure funds for the advanced plane, from which Turkey has been excluded.
Panagiotopoulos hinted at Mitsotakis’ own trip to Washington in February on Monday, but the new pandemic wave is a complicating factor.
If pandemic conditions allow, Dendias will travel to Nigeria and Angola in January. This is part of the government’s strategy to engage diplomatically as widely as possible, but also aims to thwart Turkey’s active “drone diplomacy” by using the sale of unmanned aircraft to expand its reach.