Tsipras complains of politicisation, KKE says Rafales "serve aggressive imperialist plans"

Rafale figher jet Greece Tsipras SYRIZA greek

Main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) have complained about the politicisation of Greece's acquisition of the French-made Rafale fighter jet

"Never before in modern Greek history has a political party turned the acquisition of armaments with the Greek people's money, of which there is not much to spare, into a party political advertisement," Tsipras posted on Twitter.

"Shame and national exploitation...," he added.

The KKE also leveled criticism at the Kyriakos Mitsotakis government in regard to the Rafale acquisition, complaining  that the Rafale's serve Greece's involvement in "aggressive plans" by NATO.

"The government fiestas over the Rafale [aircraft] cannot hide the fact that, in the tragic conditions of the pandemic and soaring prices, the people are being called upon to assume - with the responsibility of the government and the other parties that voted for them - the excessive cost of these warplanes, which mainly serve the country's involvement in the aggressive plans of the Euro-Atlantic imperialist alliances of the ruling class," the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Real protection for the interests of the people and the sovereign rights of the country can only arise by pulling out of the belligerent plans of the US-NATO-EU, a final disengagement, with the sovereign Greek people at the helm of power, with the building of multilateral international relations on the basis of mutual benefit for the peoples," it added.

READ MORE: The first photos of Greek Rafale fighter jets flying over the Acropolis.

Meanwhile, according to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the new Rafale fighter jets that arrived in Greece on Wednesday are an example of how Greece is "changing and prospering in all fields."

During the speech, made during yesterday's ceremony to receive the first six out of a total of 24 Rafele's ordered from France, the prime minister also announced that hazard pay for flight and diving personnel, who will henceforth be exempt from all taxes.

Mitsotakis added that this will apply in the armed forces, security forces, fire brigade and coast guard, as well as personnel that provide medical assistance using aircraft.

"This relief corresponds with the fiscal capabilities of the country," he added.

The Prime Minister stressed that the aircraft had arrived, ready to be deployed "and to guard Greece's skies", with fully-trained crews and support staff, 16 months after they were ordered.

The next six were due to arrive within 2022, while the third half-dozen scheduled to arrive in 2023, followed by the final six.

READ MORE: Turkish DM Akar: Greece’s alliance with France will cause cracks in NATO.

For his part, Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said that the arrival of the Rafale fighter jets in Greece marks a historic day.

The 114 Air Base at Tanagra has been the launching ground of the Mirage fighter jets for decades, the minister pointed out.

Now the Rafales have come "to make a difference in the balance of power in the skies," he added.

The entire support network and personnel on the ground, including technicians, is in operational readiness, noted Panagiotopoulos, "which is a necessary condition for the full integration of the Rafales in the ranks of the Greek Air Force."

Aircraft manufacturing company Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trapier stressed the strategic importance of the acquisition of these aircraft by Greece, while emphasising the speedy completion of staff training and delivery of the Rafales.

Greece demonstrated in practice its confidence in France by choosing the Rafales, said French Ambassador to Athens Patrick Maisonnave, as these "will protect Greek airspace for decades to come."

After the Mirages, the French ambassador pointed out, "a new chapter opens in Greek-French cooperation" with the arrival of the Rafales.

"Greece and France are united by a centuries old friendship," he said, adding that "our peoples share the common values of freedom and solidarity, as well as a common vision for the future of Europe."

READ MORE: President Emmanuel Macron thanks Greece for purchase of French Rafale Jets.