Deal with strong US guarantees

Pact shields ‘territorial integrity’ as Blinken stresses Greece’s sovereign rights must be respected

Deal with strong US guarantees

Athens’ diplomatic regional clout was enhanced Thursday with the signing of the renewal of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement between the United States and Greece.

“The revision of the mutual defense cooperation agreement we will sign in a few minutes is symbolically and substantially the foundation of our long-term partnership,” Dendias said in Washington, where he and Secretary of State Antony Blinken renewed the defense cooperation deal for five years.

Significantly, it is the first time the deal refers so clearly to a reciprocal decision to safeguard security, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity against actions that threaten peace.

What’s more, in a letter to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Blinken referred to the need for sovereignty and territorial integrity to be respected as well as Greece’s sovereign rights under the International Law of the Sea. Diplomatic sources noted that the reference to sovereign rights is an extremely important element as it essentially denotes that Washington recognizes and demands full respect for Greece’s sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and its continental shelf.

Tellingly, the letter states that the US, although not a signatory to UNCLOS, emphasized that the International Law of the Sea is part of the customary law that makes it binding on all countries.

The letter also leaves open the possibility of the deployment of American forces on islands other than Crete. Volos (Georgoula Camp), Alexandroupoli (Giannouli Camp), the Litochoro Firing Range and Souda Naval Base are mentioned as bases from which American forces will operate and be trained.

The improvements of the wording both in the introductory paragraphs of the MDCA, and in the letter sent by Blinken to Mitsotakis, as well the prospect of the future use of islands (Skyros in particular) were welcomed in Athens. 

Diplomatic sources said that the US now sees “Greece as one of the few European countries in which to invest for the future, strengthening its geopolitical and strategic footprint, with a contractual commitment to be followed regardless of the White House tenant, as the deal will last at least five years.”

The sources also noted there are no corresponding US moves toward Turkey.

The deal comes a few weeks after Greece signed a new defense pact with France that will allow them to come to each other’s aid in the event of an external threat.

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