OPINION

Greece-US defense cooperation

greece-us-defense-cooperation

The prospect of a renewed Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement between Greece and the United States – possibly extended over five years – is an extremely important development, given the challenging geopolitical setting where events both in the immediate vicinity but also in more distant lands that may nevertheless affect us, are creating a growing sense of insecurity.

The US-Greece relationship has acquired its own momentum and, more importantly, is able to progress under different administrations in Washington (and majorities in Congress) and Athens.

Up until a few years ago, American decision makers regarded Greece with some skepticism (the approach was similar in Israel too) because of successive Greek governments’ efforts not to appear too pro-American in the eyes of a public known for decades for its knee-jerk, anti-American reaction and, at best, for marked suspicion of the US. This was due to specific American interventions in Greek domestic affairs in the past, but also due to the widespread belief that Washington favored Ankara and, by extension, tolerated actions that irked Athens and harmed Greece’s national interests.

The situation has since changed radically and the overwhelming majority of Greek political parties are in favor of closer ties with the US, including in defense. Indeed, we even saw a left-wing government promoting the bilateral strategic ties and even a defense cooperation agreement.

A similar shift in sentiment toward Greece is also evident across the political spectrum in Washington, and is confirmed in the reports and analyses of numerous think-tanks.

The defense deal being negotiated is a part of this deepening of ties. The next steps in what effectively creates a shield for Greece, is the ongoing upgrade of its fleet of F-16 fighter jets, moves such as the installation and operation from Greek territory of drones, as well as the creation of new bases in strategically important areas like Evros and Skyros, which, if realized, will also contribute toward increasing the country’s deterrence abilities.

As Greece has emerged as a serious and reliable ally for the US, the latter has every reason to strengthen its partner while at the same time making clear its support for its territorial integrity and for its ability to carry out its potential role as a pillar of stability in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, something that would simultaneously serve US interests.