An agreement to deploy a Greek Patriot missile system in Saudi Arabia could be signed when top Greece officials visit Riyadh next week.
On April 20, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and National Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos are scheduled to arrive in the Saudi capital. The agreement was to be finalized last year, but the pandemic led to its postponement, Greek City Times reported today.
The plan to move the Patriots was confirmed by Greek Government spokesman Stelios Petsas over two years ago. Talks regarding the deployment started in October 2019 after the Yemeni strike on state-owned company Aramco in Saudi Arabia on 14 September.
Discussions between the two parties intensified during Philia Forum (Friendship Forum) held in Athens in mid-February. A month later, six Saudi F-15 fighter jets arrived in Souda Bay, located on the northwest coast of the Greek island of Crete, to participate in joint exercises with the Greek Armed Forces.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, Greece’s arch rival, described the joint military exercises as “regrettable.”
The Saudis will cover transportation and operation costs of the Patriot battery from Greece, and will also finance the upgrade of the Greek anti-aircraft systems to the PAC-3 version.
Greece’s agreement with Saudi Arabia will include the necessary Air Force personnel, at least 40 officers and non-commissioned officers, who will be transferred to the Arab country and will be in charge of the Patriot system.