A difficult and complex decision
Greece has an important decision to make over the next two months regarding its plans to purchase frigates for the navy. It is a decision that follows the decision to modernize F-16 fighter jets, acquire Rafale aircraft and treat a number of long-lasting injuries. At the same time, the country is also implementing decisions such as that of a joint special forces command which has been the subject of discussions since the Imia crisis in 1996. All this represents the first time in many years. that things develop in the field of defense, which had fallen behind due to the deep economic crisis.
The decision for the frigates is difficult and complex. If Greece were a typical “customer”, it would look at the offers submitted by different countries and companies, assess the cost and make a decision. We are not a typical customer, however, but a country facing threats and with a lot to weigh before making a choice. One of the theories, for example, is that “shopping” with a great power implies an “insurance contract” against Turkey. This could take the form of certain guarantees or of a “weapon” which would allow Greece to bring a certain balance to the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean. It is a demanding equation which calls for serious and exhaustive negotiations. The choice between a “simple” or “geopolitical” solution is just as difficult.
The second question concerns the timeframe for commissioning the new frigates and whether there is an interim solution by then, such as second-hand ships that would be able to bolster the Greek fleet at once.
In the larger countries, discussions about these important decisions take place in the open, in the public sphere, and the fact that this is also the case in Greece now is very positive. Citizens demand to know what the choices are and where their taxes are going. But the decision ultimately lies with those who have inhabited the Greek seas under such difficult conditions. They know what they need and how to use it. Their contribution, combined with the government’s political and diplomatic considerations, will shape the final choice.