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Ex-FM: France, US deal could drag Greece into war with Russia, China

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Nikos Kotzias, former Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs (file photo)

A former Greek diplomat has lambasted recent military agreements with France and the United States, saying the pacts could potentially drag the country into a conflict with Russia, China and the Arab world.

Nikos Kotzias, the former Greek minister of foreign affairs, called the signings of the US-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) and the France-Greece Defense and Security Agreement an "unconditional surrender" on part of Athens.

He said Greece must have a multi-dimensional foreign policy that plays a mediating role between the West and East.

"Greece must hold an independent multi-dimensional foreign policy and be a mediator when the West and East are in conflict; to act as an arbiter... When you act as an arbiter and negotiate on behalf of others, when you promote your requests, everyone will listen to you," Kotzias said in an interview with the Greek newspaper Nea Egnatia that was published on Saturday.

The former diplomat said Athens had signed the MDCA with the belief that the US was ready to support Greece in disputes with Ankara by treating Turkey as their "common enemy," while Washington's priorities lay “elsewhere.”

"The question is, who is the enemy? Are the Americans creating bases to strike the Turks alongside Greece or to prevent Turkey from inflicting insidious blows? ... No, they mean Russia," said Kotzias, who served as Greece's foreign minister from 2015 to 2018.

The former minister cautioned Athens against provoking Russia and thwarting bilateral relations with China.

Criticizing the France-Greece agreement, Kotzias said it would have been best if the military pact had been limited to the interests of France and Greece, similar to agreements between Athens and the Greek-Cypriots.

Turkey has slammed the multi-billion-euro deal that would see Athens purchase three French warships, saying the military pact threatens the region’s stability as it is aimed at isolating Ankara.

France responded that the deal was not meant to be seen as a threat against Ankara, but rather to ensure security in the Mediterranean as well as North Africa, West Asia, and the Balkans.

Greece has already bought 18 French Rafale warplanes and plans to purchase another six under a program to modernize its armed forces.

Turkey and Greece, both NATO allies, remain at odds over issues including the treatment of refugee boats.

Last year, they came close to an armed conflict when their gunboats collided as they maneuvered close to each other in disputed waters during a standoff over energy exploration.

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