Thessaloniki, already an important commercial, industrial and military hub in the Balkans, is to be upgraded further with the construction of an ultramodern military hospital that will be able to function even in the event of chemical or nuclear war. The hospital’s purpose will be to serve the needs of military operations even in the broader region. According to the plans, the hospital will have 420 beds in times of peace, while another 300 will be stored in the basement to offer total safety in the event of a nuclear or chemical war. In addition to the nuclear and chemical shelters, there are also plans for helicopter pads for Chinook helicopters, independent systems for the provision of water and electricity, electronic systems, a computer system for charting operational costs, fortified underground corridors linking buildings, and more. Laying the foundation stone for the hospital at Nea Efkarpia, northwest of Thessaloniki, last month, then Defense Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said, The new military hospital in Thessaloniki is in a position to meet whatever needs should arise in the Balkan region and anywhere else. Military sources said the functioning of such a hospital unit represents the military upgrading of Thessaloniki. The city will effectively be transformed into a strategic bridge into Southeastern Europe for NATO when one considers this alongside the use of the city’s port as a supply depot for the troops in the region and the imminent establishment of multinational headquarters on the grounds of the Third Army Corps. The same sources said it was almost certain that in times of crisis the hospital would be used to support the allied forces engaged in operations in Southeastern Europe in view of its ultramodern equipment as well as its secure geographical position. Northern Greece is becoming the center of strategic security for the country’s armed forces, Tsochadzopoulos said.