Greece will not conclude any major arms deals this year to save money to fight its debt crisis, Deputy Defence Minister Panos Beglitis has said.

“We continue negotiations with France and Russia, but this doesn’t mean we will reach a deal in 2011. Our government’s message is clear. In these adverse conditions we can’t conclude specific deals,” he said in an interview with Reuters.

The nation has been reducing its defence budget by about 20% a year since 2009 as part of efforts to reduce structural spending and cutting deficits.

The 2011 defence budget is set at €4.87bn ($6.68bn), or 2.13% of GDP, down from 2.8% in 2010.

Greece is currently in talks with Russia to purchase BMP-3 armoured vehicles and is also negotiating with France to buy six FREMM frigates, worth about €2.5bn.

The ministry has allocated €1.6bn for arms programmes in its 2011 budget, of which nearly half will be used to pay existing orders, and €830m for maintenance, ammunition and spare parts for aircraft.

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