Global

Greek PM calls US defense
deal ‘Voice of Confidence’

Written by The Frontier Post

ATHENS (TASS): Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis believes that the Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States serves the country’s national interests and is a vote of confidence for Greece. The head of government stated this on Thursday during a debate in parliament during a discussion of a bill on ratification of the second protocol to amend the Agreement on Mutual Defense Cooper-ation between Greece and the United States. Voting on the document should take place on Thursday evening. The broadcast is carried out by the parliamentary TV channel Ulusal.
“The US Defense Mutual Cooperation Agreement serves the national interest and completes the network of alliances for the US government,” Mitsotakis said. “The text we are called to ratify is formally one of many updates to our defense cooperation with the transatlantic power.” According to Mitsotakis, the US is expanding its presence in the eastern Mediterranean, emphasizing its energy interest as well. “Hydrocarbon exploration in the Mediterranean has returned to the fore,” the prime minister said.
He expressed the opinion that “this agreement ceases to be a bilateral protocol and becomes a vote of confidence in Greece as an unshakable factor of stability, as a prudent European and NATO partner, guaranteeing international legitimacy in the face of any attacks by its neighbors.” “Greece is becoming a key node on the new energy map. This agreement affects not only defense and diplomacy, but also the economy and energy at the same time. This strengthens the role of Greece,” the prime minister said, referring to his upcoming trip to the United States on May 16-17. “My invitation to meet with US President Joe Biden testifies to this, and the next day I will be the first Greek leader to address a joint session of the US Senate and House of Representatives.”
Mitsotakis explained that for Greece “this agreement is important because, firstly, it includes a clear commitment that the American presence in Greece will be renewed every 5 years [instead of one year as before] with the right of each side to terminate it, if she deems it necessary.” “The United States decides to increase its presence in Greece,” the prime minister said. “It is no coincidence that other European countries seek to conclude similar agreements with the United States or supplement and expand existing ones. Secondly, this bilateral cooperation with the United States is important because it is expanding not only in time but also in space.At the naval base of Souda [in Crete], the entire infrastructure is being modernized and the overall role of the base is being strengthened. to which an American aircraft carrier can get up in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. The shooting range in Litohoro and two military camps, the first in Volos and the second in Alexandroupolis, also find use.
Thirdly, according to Mitsotakis, “the new agreement is important because it clearly expresses the common will for the mutual defense of sovereignty and territorial integrity against any threat, even armed attack.” The prime minister added that “this wording was repeated by US Secretary of State [Anthony] Blinken in a cover letter.”
Greece fears military provocations from Turkey, which has stated that if Greece expands its territorial waters from 6 to 12 nautical miles in the Aegean Sea, then this will be considered a violation of Turkish national sovereignty and, therefore, will become casus belli (lat. “casus belli “, a formal reason for declaring war – TASS note).
On May 10, the bill was discussed at a meeting of the profile committee of the Greek Parliament. The ruling center-right New Democracy Party and the left-wing opposition PASOK-Movement for Change party spoke in favor of its ratification, although its representative Vassilis Kegeroglu called the document “unbalanced”. The main opposition party, the Coalition of the Radical Left, the Communist Party of Greece, the right-wing Elliniki Lisi party and the small left-wing party MERA25 announced their intention to vote against the agreement.
ND and PASOK-Movement for Change have a total of 179 votes in the country’s 300-seat unicameral parliament, which will certainly give them the opportunity to pass this document without hindrance.
In October 2019, Greece and the United States amended the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement, which was concluded in 1990. The document refers to the expansion of the US naval base in Souda Bay on the island of Crete, the use of an air base near the city of Larisa, an army aviation base in Stefanovikio (Magnisia region) and the port of Alexandroupolis in northeastern Greece. It also provides for the possibility of using any other military facility on the territory of Greece with its consent.
The United States and Greece signed a second protocol in Washington on October 14, 2021 amending the defense agreement. According to him, four new facilities are added to the list of four US military bases. These are the Yannuli military camp in Alexandroupolis, the naval base of Crete, the shooting range in Litochoro (Pieria region) and the Georgula camp (near the air base in Larissa). According to local media, a large-scale operation was carried out through the port of Alexandroupolis at the end of last year to transfer American military equipment, including combat helicopters and tanks, to be sent to Bulgaria and Romania by rail and road.

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The Frontier Post