French warship visit to Greece sends message for east Mediterranean

The clear and powerful message of the French Navy’s continued presence in the Eastern Mediterranean was sent by the visiting Georges Leygues class (Type F70 AS) Latouche-Treville anti-submarine frigate (D646) at the port of Piraeus. The ship was in Piraeus as part of its long voyage in the Middle East, the Indian Ocean and Asia with Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia being the last stop.

The French vessel belonging to the anti-submarine fleet of the Breste naval base, consisting of three Georges Leygues class (Type F70 AS) and an Aquitaine class frigate (FREMM), whose mission is to protect the French Navy underwater fleet, which consists of four ICBM submarines of the Le Triomphant class and six nuclear powered Rubis class submarines.

The visit of the Latouche-Treville frigate (D 646) to Piraeus is another of the dozens (35 on average) visits to Greece each year by French Navy ships, confirming the strong presence of France in the eastern Mediterranean and the geopolitical interest of the French governments for this region.

This was highlighted by the French Ambassador Christophe Chantepy and the Defense Attache of the French Embassy, Colonel Charles Aballea, during the tour of the Greek Embassy, organized by the French Embassy.

Both the French Ambassador and the Defense Attache pointed out the very close, friendly, timeless, and strategic relations that the two countries have had for almost two centuries, while the Ambassador described Greece as a friendly country with which the views of France coincide by 99.9 %.

Additionally, the French Ambassador noted the help and support that France provided to Greece in the years of the economic crisis and the Memoranda and the willingness to understand the Greek positions from Paris, as well as the hard times Greek citizens experienced.

Regarding the future of the Greek-French military relations, the Ambassador noted that there are a number of armament programs in progress, such as the support of the Hellenic Air Force Mirage-2000EGM / BGM / -5MkII, the Navy Air Force Transport helicopters NH90TTH and of course new Navy frigate program.

As Ambassador Christophe Chantepy pointed out, “there is a common desire of the two countries over the coming months and years to grow further in the coming years.”

In the field of joint training of the Greek and French Armed Forces, French Ambassador Christophe Chantepy and Defense Attache Colonel Charles Aballea, have revealed that France has submitted a request to participate with two Observer Officers in the Greek-Egyptian Exercise “Medusa,” in June 2019, which will take place in two phases, the first in the region of Egypt and the second in the island’s area of Greece.

The Medusa exercise has been ongoing since 2015 and has helped to strengthen military relations between Greece and Egypt. After participating with observers in the first phase of the Medusa 2019 exercise, France will consider joining the next phase with warships and other means.

It is worth noting that France’s relations with Egypt have been very close in recent years and that the Egyptian Navy has recently acquired three – at least – warships from France, two Mistral Gamal Abdel Nasser (L1010) and Anwar El Sadat (L1020) and the Aquitaine frigate (FREMM) Tahya Misr (FFG1001).

But the point that needed particular attention was the response of French Ambassador Christophe Chantepy to the question of how France would react if the drilling rigs of the French company Total operating in the area of the Cypriot EEZ were harassed and prevented from carrying out their work by Turkish wars ships, as was the case in 2018 with the research vessel of the Italian company ENI.

Keeping a careful but clear position, the French Ambassador sent to everyone concerned, without naming Turkey, his message stating that there are issues we do not speak publicly about, and that France is always working to reduce tensions. According to the French Ambassador, “France is present in all seas. This presence is neither anonymous nor accidental. “

However, as Ambassador Christophe Chantepy pointed out, France is always pursuing dialogue and cooperation and avoiding tensions with the ultimate goal of the economic prosperity of its friendly allies’ countries and, of course, the EU.