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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11, 2023.Mindaugas Kulbis/The Associated Press

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is planning to announce an agreement to purchase a fleet of Canadian-made water bombers, as he promotes his country’s economic recovery and courts potential investors during an official visit to Canada this weekend.

In an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Mitsotakis, the leader of Greece’s centre-right New Democracy party, said he expects to announce a water-bomber deal with Calgary’s De Havilland Aircraft of Canada worth about €360-million ($530-million) during the visit. Greece, like Canada, has been dealing with increasingly severe wildfire seasons and wants to expand its fleet of planes that drop water to douse the blazes.

“This is a big purchase for us,” he said, adding that the Greek parliament is set to approve the deal on Friday.

Mr. Mitsotakis’s official visit will be the first to Canada by a Greek prime minister in 41 years. “The delay was inexplicable, given the strong ties between Greece and Canada,” he said. “I had made it a priority to officially visit Canada … to engage with the Greek-Canadian community and to talk about the economic aspect of our co-operation.”

His packed two-day schedule includes a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday in Montreal, after which the two leaders, both sons of prime ministers, will attend the city’s Greek Independence Day parade and an evening event sponsored by the Greek community.

On Monday, Mr. Mitsotakis will go to Toronto to meet business representatives at the Economic Club of Canada, followed by a Greek community event at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where he will make a speech.

The Greek government has been mulling the water bomber deal for some time, as climate change has triggered horrific wildfires in both Europe and Canada. Last year was particularly grim for Greece. Wildfires, some caused by drought and extremely high temperatures, others by arson, were responsible for 28 deaths in the country. At the time, Mr. Mitsotakis called the Mediterranean a “hot spot for climate change.”

Under the proposed deal, Greece would be the base for seven DHC-515 Firefighters, the newest water bombers built by De Havilland. The DHC-515 is an updated version of the CL-415 water bomber, which used to be built by Montreal’s Bombardier. It has yet to enter production.

The red and yellow planes are used in several European countries, including France and Italy, where they are universally known as Canadairs, after the company that originally developed the amphibious tankers in the late 1960s.

Five of the seven planes in the Greek fleet would be purchased by the Greek government. The other two would be purchased by the European Union for its civil protection arm, known as rescEU.

As he tours Canada, Mr. Mitsotakis will also deliver the message that Greece is no longer an economic basket case, and is open for investments aimed at making it one of the Mediterranean’s technology and logistics hubs. Greece almost left the euro zone during the height of the country’s financial and economic crisis between 2010 and 2015, when it required three bailouts from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund to avoid economic collapse and insolvency. The Greek economy has since rebounded to become one of Europe’s top performers.

In recent years, Greece has pursued a strategy of across-the-board tax cuts, fairer insolvency law, streamlining and “digitizing” its bloated civil service, accelerating privatizations and ridding its banks of large amounts of non-performing loans so they can lend again.

Toronto’s Fairfax Financial Holdings bet heavily on the Greek turnaround and became one of the biggest foreign investors in the country. Its holdings include 32 per cent of Eurobank, one of Greece’s largest lenders. In an interview Tuesday, Fairfax’s chairman and chief executive officer, Prem Watsa, called Greece “the best country in Europe for investments.”

The Greek economy is expected to grow by 2.3 per cent this year, up from 2.2 per cent in 2023, the European Commission said in its winter statement. Still, the country’s economy is almost 20 per cent smaller than it was before the financial crisis, and needs additional reforms to make it more competitive.

Mr. Mitsotakis said he hopes to make Greece, which already has one the Mediterranean’s biggest container ports, a logistics hub with a supply chain that extends to India. He recently visited India, where he and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed what they called the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor.

“Greece is a natural entry point for trade from India, or European trade to India,” Mr. Mitsotakis said. “We have a particularly important role to play in logistics and infrastructure. For India, Greece is the closest continental European country.”

He said he will discuss the Ukraine and Israel-Hamas wars when he meets Mr. Trudeau, and will reinforce Greece’s view that massive amounts of food and other aid need to be delivered to Gaza immediately to avoid starvation among the Palestinian population there.

“We are pushing the European Union hard to reach a statement that will very, very clearly express our deep concerns for the humanitarian situation in Gaza, put pressure on Israel not to invade Rafah [in southern Gaza], and make it very, very clear that, at the end of the day, only a two-state solution can solve the overall political problem of the Middle East,” he said.

He added that the Israeli hostages taken by Hamas when it attacked Israel on Oct. 7 must be released.

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