FM: Athens wants US presence

FM: Athens wants US presence

The Foreign Ministry bill on the new Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) signed between Greece and the United States was ratified on Tuesday by the competent parliamentary committee and will be presented for final approval by Parliament on Thursday with a roll call vote. The committee approved the bill with votes by ruling New Democracy and centrist alliance PASOK-KINAL.

The ministers of foreign affairs and defense, Nikos Dendias and Nikos Panagiotopoulos, categorically rejected the arguments of the opposition parties, especially of leftist SYRIZA, who are voting against the agreement, claiming that it serves only the interests of the US and not of Greece. The thrust of the criticism was focused mainly on the initial five-year duration of the agreement, as well as on the use of Alexandroupoli by American forces.

SYRIZA lawmaker Giorgos Katrougalos said that, when in government, his party will renegotiate the agreement, while others noted it would make Alexandroupoli a target for Russia.

Dendias said Athens wants an American military presence in Greece – and in the north of the country in particular – because this serves the national interest.

Speaking during a debate in Parliament, Dendias said that extending the deal from a period of one year to five was agreed at Athens’ initiative, while revealing that the Greek side had mulled an even longer extension.

“We were not doing the US any favors. We are generous toward the country’s interest. We wanted five years and I won’t hide that the government even considered 10,” Dendias said, claiming that this “makes it easier for the American administration to allocate funds for the improvement of our military facilities, which are included in the agreement.”

“We want the military presence. We did not pretend to be the ones who want the bases the gone… We wanted and we still want a [US] presence in Thrace… We want the US military presence in Alexandroupoli,” he said.

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