Negotiations between Athens and Washington on the updating of the Mutual Defense and Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) are entering an intensive phase, with the United States now saying that the agreement could be extended indefinitely.
A State Department spokesperson, speaking to Greek media late Tuesday, said that Athens and Washington have made “very significant progress” on reaching an agreement on potential updates to the MDCA, including extending the agreement indefinitely from its current annual duration.
The reference to an indefinite extension surprised officials in Athens, who were under the impression that there were two alternatives: either an annual extension of the agreement as is, or a five-year extension, with new clauses added.
But the question of indefinite extension had already been raised at the end of 2019, during negotiations about the previous extension. The interpretation of the State Department spokesperson statement is that the US would like a five-year extension followed by indefinite extension unless one of the two parties denounces the agreement.
In any case, talks are ongoing and they are still far from conclusive. A possible breakthrough is expected, or hoped for, when Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias visits Washington on October 14 to meet his counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Athens still hopes the US will augment its presence across more locations in Greece, although one option it offered, of air and naval installations on the island of Skyros, has already been turned down by the Americans.
Washington has not come out with an official reaction to the recent deal between France and Greece for the latter’s acquisition of three advanced technology frigates.
“We have not seen the details of Greece and France’s multi-year defense agreement,” the same State Department spokesperson said, while noting that “we strongly support Greece’s role in creating stability in the region.”
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hailed the deal on Wednesday as a step toward “realizing the European strategic autonomy at a time when Europe must finally align its geopolitical power with its economic one.”
Mitsotakis on Wednesday briefed President Katerina Sakellaropoulou about the agreement, which the Parliament is expected to ratify on October 7.