Macrons 24 fighter jets to Greece after UK snub is to do with French interest – not EU

Taiwan MP says AUKUS pact is a ‘security net’ against China

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The first batch of the French Dassault-made Rafale multi-role fighter jets will be delivered to Greece today. Athens bought 18 jets at a cost of €2.3 billion last year. It then ordered an extra six in September.

The deal was made at the back of Emmanuel Macron’s disappointment over France being left out of a lucrative submarine deal with Australia.

Australia decided to cancel a big submarine contract with France and go for US-designed vessels instead as part of a new security alliance with Washington and Britain to counter China. This riled France and caused tension between Western allies.

The deal with Athens marked a pact between Mr Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, viewed as a boost EU defence autonomy.

But some in the EU were sceptical of the move and were concerned it would only serve to flare up tensions between Greece and Turkey in the Mediterranean.

One EU diplomat said: “It is a bit bizarre to say the pact contributes to European sovereignty.

“By all accounts, this is a traditional 19th-century defence pact between two European powers.

“It has definitely more to do with the pursuit of narrow national interests than with Europe.”

Tensions between Greece and Turkey have been rising over disputed waters in the Mediterranean that contain fossil fuel reserves.

The United States has pulled its support for a subsea pipeline that would supply natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe because it makes no economic sense, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was cited as saying on Tuesday.

Touted as an alternative to help ease Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, the 1,900-km (1,180-mile) project would initially be expected to carry 10 billion cubic metres of gas a year. But it remains unclear whether the project will ever go ahead.

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Turkey has long opposed the project, which is backed by Greece, Cyprus and Israel and had also enjoyed the support of the former Trump administration in the United States.

Last week, however, the Biden administration, in an apparent U-turn, has expressed misgivings about the EastMed project, citing concerns over its economic viability and environmental costs.

“This project is not something that can happen. They (the United States) carried out all the analyses, and they saw it had no positive sides. In other words, the cost calculations don’t add up,” President Erdogan told reporters during a visit to Albania, according to broadcaster NTV.

“The United States takes all its steps based on capital in any case. Since the cost calculations for this didn’t add up, it pulled its support,” he added.

Mr Erdogan reiterated his view that the project “cannot work without Turkey”.

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Under a cooperation deal sealed two years ago, Greece, Cyprus and Israel aim to reach a final investment decision for the pipeline in 2022 and to complete its construction by 2025.

It would transport gas from Israeli and Cypriot waters to Greece and into Europe’s gas network via Italy. But regional politics could well scupper such plans.

NATO allies Turkey and Greece are at odds over their competing maritime jurisdiction and energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey has no diplomatic relations with the internationally recognised government of Cyprus, instead backing a breakaway Turkish Cypriot entity in the north of the island.

Amid an apparent thaw in Turkey’s long-troubled ties with Israel, Erdogan was quoted as saying on Tuesday that the two countries had previously attempted to cooperate on energy resources but that talks had never moved far ahead.

“Is there no hope of reaching something now? We can sit down and discuss terms,” he said, without elaborating.

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