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Defense Minister: Greece, US to invest in existing military bases

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Athens and Washington will likely agree to invest further in the four military bases already used by the American armed forces in the country rather than add more locations through the renewal of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA), Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said in an interview on Saturday.

“We choose, together with the American side, to invest even more in the existing four, in which very important collaborations are developing at the level of defense synergies between Greece and the US,” he told newspaper Ta Nea, refering to ongoing discussions over the deal.

“I believe that, at this stage, the deepening of the cooperation is more important than expanding in other locations. This position obviously expresses both sides,” he added.

Based on the existing provisions of the MDCA, the American armed forces have, apart from Souda Bay naval base on Crete, a rotating presence in a number of other locations, such as Stefanovikeio, the port of Alexandroupoli and Larisa Air Base.

Athens was hoping the US would 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.

Panagiotopoulos pointed to the upcoming visit of Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias to Washington on October 14 to meet his counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, where the strategic dialogue between the two sides will take place.

“The United States of America is and will continue to be a key strategic partner of Greece,” he said. “The mutual defense cooperation agreement [MDCA] reflects exactly this relationship, which has been constantly upgraded over the last years.”