OPINION

The US contribution to Greek deterrence

the-us-contribution-to-greek-deterrence

The defense agreement with the United States that Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias is due to sign Thursday in Washington further bolsters the well-designed plan for strengthening our country’s defense position.

The prospect of an expanded US presence to more parts of Greece, potentially even to specific islands, is good for the Greek side, but also gives America more alternatives and flexibility. This is how the State Department and the Pentagon see it.

At the same time, it should not distress any third parties because, quite simply, it’s not about and more importantly not against them. The aims and strategic thinking behind the Athens-Washington partnership is of a purely defensive nature.

The statement by Secretary of State Antony Blinken that will accompany the agreement is important to us and obviously welcome, but let’s not kid ourselves: It’s not binding. References to the protection of Greece’s territorial integrity and sovereign rights, support for the principles of international law and the Law of Sea, are useful and carry symbolic weight, but – as we have said so often before – no one will fight our war for us.

What Greece is doing is deepening its multifaceted cooperation with the world’s biggest military power, just as it did a few days ago by signing a defense agreement with Europe’s strongest, France, for the upgrade of its F-16 fleet with the former, and the acquisition of Rafale jets and frigates with the latter.

At the same time, the commitments outlined in the Greece-France deal, along with the statement by Blinken – as with earlier ones, most recently from his predecessor Mike Pompeo – are certainly valuable and cannot be overlooked by Ankara.

All these developments might be a contributing factor to the mounting frustration behind Turkey’s recent behavior. In the past few days alone, it sent a letter to the United Nations openly challenging Greek sovereignty over some of its bigger islands and has threatened exploratory drilling all over the Eastern Mediterranean, openly flouting, among others, the Greek-Egyptian exclusive economic zone agreement.

Greece’s alliances with Egypt – Athens is hosting the Greece, Cyprus and Egypt summit next Tuesday – Israel and the United Arab Emirates – all of which have Washington’s support – obviously affect the balance of power and place Athens firmly in a pro-Western strategic network in a region where America’s gradual departure is leaving a void that must be filled.

And Greece, which for some years now has become a stabilizing force in the Balkans and the East Med, and as a member of both the European Union and NATO is playing the part it deserves – something which has not always been the case – appears capable of ably filling it.

It is with resolute and methodical steps as the ones noted above, and without exaggerated expectations, that we are coming to the completion of one more significant facet of Greece’s deterrent force in Washington today.