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Sahel. Greece engages in Takuba alongside the French

(B2) Greece should send a military unit to the Takuba task force in Mali. A pledge of its European commitment

Elements of the special forces parachute squadron (credit: Alpha TV)

Athens could send a small military unit, as part of the anti-terrorist operation initiated by France, more particularly in the triangle of the three borders, on the borders of Mali and Niger.

A small unit

The Greek mission will be to small size and will involve special forces personnel, according to our colleague Savvas Vlassis of the Greek media Doureios. They should come from the parachute squadron of the special forces (or ETA as Eidiko Tmima Alexiptotiston), an elite unit of the Greek army.

For strength protection

Beforehand, two special forces officers should be sent to Mali, on location, in order to learn about the operational framework, get a picture of the ongoing struggle and of Takuba's mission. The contingent will then follow. The Greek unit should ensure, at the beginning, the 'force protection' of the camp.

Greece is the fifth European country to engage in this operation in the Sahel, after Estonia, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Italy.

Comment: an uncommon African commitment

This involvement of the Greeks on earth is sufficiently rare not to be mentioned. Athens had not shown a notorious commitment on the African ground so far. The Greeks are currently only two in the EU training mission of the Malian army (EUTM Mali).

We can therefore see it as a counterpart, in solidarity, with the unwavering French commitment alongside the Greeks in their repeated disputes with Turkey. France has also recently sent several ships to the eastern Mediterranean (read: MEDOR. Three ships and two French planes to keep an eye on Turkey).

A Greek turning point in European defense

But this is not a simple return of favor. Greece is making a notable comeback in the European defense system, under the leadership of Prime Minister K. Mitsotakis (New Democracy). After a period of caution, it became significantly involved in permanent structured cooperation (PESCO), coordinating 5 of the 26 highest priority projects. It recently joined the European Intervention Initiative (EII) launched by Paris. It currently commands the maritime force in the Mediterranean Sea (EUNAVFOR Med Irini) contributing directly to it with a ship and a maritime patrol aircraft. Finally, during the meeting of EU Defense Ministers last Friday (20.11), the Greek Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos pressed " common interest from Member States to achieving stability in the Sahel et strengthen security across the region especially in Mali.

A long-standing French request

This responds to a French request expressed on several occasions. French President Emmanuel Macron had evoked it in a cryptic way when receiving Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the end of January, speaking " maritime and land joint operations ". Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly expressed this more directly during a meeting with her Greek counterpart in Athens in February. " I have asked my counterpart to consider the commitment, at a significant level, of the Greek armed forces by our side, on the ground, in Africa, to fight against the terrorist threat and to neutralize as far as possible the trafficking. "" This demanding commitment brings strong operational experience and greater interoperability of our forces. she added. (To download here). And the subject would have been discussed again during the Med7 summit in Corsica at the beginning of September (read: Med7 Summit. Mediterraneans threaten Turkey with sanctions).

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Correction made to the name of the entity. It's not about the police anymore.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).