NEWS

Greece-US alliance getting stronger

Discussions with Washington foresee five-year extension to defense deal, more American bases

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Greece’s alliance with the United States is expected to be further cemented with an extension of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement, scheduled to be signed at the end of September or early October.

Kathimerini understands that negotiations between the sides, which have not yet been finalized, will stipulate a five-year extension, instead of one year, which has been the case since 1990 when the bilateral deal was first signed. 

The time frame and its extension, which the American side reportedly asked for, has been a point of contention between the two sides in previous years. What has changed this year is the new international environment. Developments in Afghanistan and the destabilization of the wider region have prompted Washington to seek stabler alliances in the Eastern Mediterranean region, with Greece at the forefront.

Given Turkey’s perceived increased role after the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, analysts believe it is the ideal time for an upgrade of Greek-American relations to convey the pivotal role Athens plays in the region.

Apart from the extension, the other significant issue that is expected to be included in the new agreement is an upgrade of American bases in Greece as well as an increase in their number and locations. 

According to sources, there have been discussions to expand the Larissa base in central Greece to include unmanned aerial vehicles. The first demonstration of MQ-9 drones by the US firm General Atomics Aeronautical Systems took place at the 110th Combat Wing in Larissa back in December 2019. The drone can have seamless cooperation with the Greek F-16 and can also interconnect with all NATO systems, upgrading the country’s defenses. 

Discussions also foresee the inclusion of two new locations: one in Evros, most likely in Xanthi, modeled on the one at Alexandroupolis – both in northern Greece – and another in the Aegean, probably in Skyros. These are two locations where Greece wants an increased American footprint and have been the topic of frequent discussion in the past among 23 other locations. 

At the same time, the upgrade of another port in northern Greece is under consideration, most likely Kavala, where American forces can be stationed.

Greece is also seeking to secure a US commitment to ensure the peaceful settlement of disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean.