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East Mediterranean tension boosts France's arms sales

France's President Emmanuel Macron (R) gestures as Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan walks past him in London on 4 December 2019 [CHRISTIAN HARTMANN/POOL/AF/Getty Images]
France's President Emmanuel Macron (R) gestures as Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan walks past him in London on 4 December 2019 [CHRISTIAN HARTMANN/POOL/AF/Getty Images]

French-backed tension between East Mediterranean states and Turkey boosts French arms sales, Paul Iddon, contributor to Forbes, revealed on Thursday.

Iddon noted that French President Emmanuel Macron is a strong critic of Turkey's foreign policy and poses himself as a supporter of the East Mediterranean states, which are on opposite sides of the tension with Turkey.

Therefore, the French military has participated in a series of military exercises this year with Turkey's rivals in the Eastern Mediterranean to signal Paris' support of these countries.

He confirmed that France has shown its support for Greece by deploying two Dassault Rafale fighter jets to the Greek island of Crete, along with a warship in August.

Greece, according to Iddon, turned to France after it had decided to expand its military to buy 18 Rafale jets, including six brand new and 12 second-hand ones that have already served in the French Air Force, noting that Greece is the first European country to buy the Rafale jets.

READ: France urges Turkey to reopen 'responsible dialogue'

Iddon also disclosed that Athens already reached a €260 million ($305 million) deal with France to upgrade its existing fleet of Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets in December 2019. This deal would prevent Turkey from establishing air superiority over the Aegean Sea, or parts of the East Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, the Republic of Cyprus reached a $262 million arms deal with France for short-range Mistral air defence systems and Exocet anti-ship missiles.

These deals are not comparable with those reached between France and Egypt, which has been a major rival of Turkey's since the current President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi came to power through his military coup in July 2013.

"Under Sisi," Iddon wrote in Forbes, "Egypt rapidly became a major multi-billion euro French arms client. His country was the first to buy Rafale jets, along with four Gowind corvettes, a FREEM multipurpose frigate, and two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships."

Iddon concluded: "So long as these territorial disputes and tensions between these countries and Turkey remain unresolved, France isn't likely going to have any shortage of arms clients in the Eastern Mediterranean anytime soon."

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