A proposal to assist the deployment of one (or more) warships in the European Union’s effort to protect maritime communication routes in the Straits of Hormuz has been received by Athens from Paris, but for “operational reasons” cannot be satisfied. At least at this point in time.
The French “pressures”, quite strong, as the relevant EU-wide maritime safety initiative in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz is French and is considered an additional move on the side of the corresponding American efforts.
As it turns out, Athens at the present time does not seem too “warm” to respond positively to such a proposal, but without directly refusing – for political reasons – its participation in patrols in the Strait of Hormuz. However, the Greek Government cites a “failure to respond” to the French request, due to the large obligations undertaken by the Hellenic Navy in the Aegean, due to the refugee crisis, and the tense situation in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus.
And this is because for political and diplomatic reasons Greece does not want to “cold-shoulder” the French, since issues are in full swing with them, such as the recently signed Paris agreement between the two countries’ defense ministers, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos and Florence Parley, for the acquisition of two frigates from France, as well as the emerging developments in the “Lot No.7” of the Republic of Cyprus, with the joint venture of French Total and Italian ENI, where French action will be very important in the near future for obvious reasons!
What can Athens do – and what is it thinking about doing – is to send a “Super Vita” missile FAC to the Horn of Africa to take part in patrols in the area based at the port of Djibouti. This is something that is being considered but some “important details” must be regulated beforehand, such as: who will finance the Greek ship (fuel, crew overseas fees, etc.), as the Greek side is burdened by an economy that has just emerged from years of financial crisis and with the budgets of the Armed Forces, the Hellenic Navy in this particular case, “in the red” for a long time!
For its part, the Hellenic Navy, as usual in these cases, declares “ignorance”, as it has not received the slightest relevant mandate, but assures that it can respond to the mission “as soon as it is ordered.” In addition, it has a wealth of experience with frigate missions in the region, as part of the EU’s Operation Atalanta, also for the protection of maritime communication routes. Especially for the Hellenic Navy, such missions from an operational perspective are not the slightest problem. The problem lies elsewhere and it is estimated that if resolved, the issue of Greek participation in EU operations will also be resolved.