US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo highlighted on Tuesday the US’ strong bilateral relations with Greece and said Washington “strongly supports” dialogue between Greece and Turkey amid tensions between the two NATO allies in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Speaking during a visit at the US naval base at Souda Bay on the island of Crete, Pompeo described Greece as “a true pillar of stability and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean,” adding that the relationship between the two countries was “at an all-time high.”
He also announced that Souda Naval Base on Crete would become the home for the giant vessel the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams.
The ship has the capacity for four helicopters on its flight deck, can launch unmanned assets, and includes command and control systems.
Secretary Pompeo was visiting Souda on the second day of his visit to Greece, accompanied by Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Pompeo stated in his remarks that “thanks to the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement signed last year, our military-to-military relationship has been enhanced significantly.”
Deeply impressed by my visit to @NSA_SoudaBay. Thanks to the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement @NikosDendias and I signed last year, our military-to-military relationship has been enhanced significantly. The strong @NATO Alliance continues to contribute to regional security. pic.twitter.com/xOORGIn2Gt
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 29, 2020
PM Mitsotakis stressed that the visit by Pompeo added another link to the strong ties between Greece and the United States. He referred extensively to the Eastern Mediterranean and to Turkey’s provocative behavior.
He stressed that the “extreme and unnecessary rhetoric” by Turkey does not help, while the tactics of the neighboring country “reveal the insincerity of its intentions.”
“I endorse Mr. Pompeo’s statement that relations between our two countries have never been as close and productive as they are today,” he added, noting that Souda now “emerges as the most strategic point of the wider region.”
The Greek leader also expressed his satisfaction that Pompeo will be a guest in Chania, Greece where the prime minister is from, and noted that on the island of Crete “beats not just the heart of Greece and the heart of the Eastern Mediterranean. There also beats the strong pulse of Greek-US cooperation. It is no accident that we are now speaking from the 115 Battle Wing of our Air Force.”
“Souda,” he went on, “is emerging as the most strategic location of the wider region. Here, the interests of our two countries meet, along with those of security and peace.
“The upgraded agreement for mutual defense cooperation between Greece and the USA extends its action to the area of our joint defense industry, with its spearhead being the modernization of 84 F-16s but also with joint programs and very important joint investments in Greek shipyards,” the Prime Minister noted.
“However,” PM Mitsotakis added, this strengthened cooperation is also “expanding to other fields and areas. As in Alexandroupolis, which is emerging as a hub for the transfer of US natural gas… and the privatization of the port is underway. The same applies to the port of Kavala,” he stated.
“An important new bilateral agreement was signed for private-public partnerships in the field of innovation. This is another proof of the leading role that Greece plays in the Balkans, to which it is returning dynamically after an absence of almost 10 years,” PM Mitsotakis added.
“Our peninsula is a geographical point where many of the common interests of Greece and the USA are gathered. Thessaloniki is and will always be their dynamic base. In our discussions, security issues in the Eastern Mediterranean remain predominant.”
The Greek leader noted that Pompeo understands “that tension between NATO member-states ultimately benefits no one and (he) opposes every unilateral action that a priori torpedoes any dialogue in good faith – and also that international law must remain a steady compass for all.”
Concluding his remarks, the Prime Minister referred to the strong ties between Greece and the United States and the cooperation between the two countries.
“Dear Secretary of State, dear friend Mike Pompeo, your visit has forged stronger ties between Greece and the US, launching new prospects for multilevel cooperation between the two countries,” he stated, adding:
“I am sure that you also draw new strength from Crete to serve the great ideals that made your country great. Freedom, equality, justice. In a little while we will celebrate 200 years since the Greek revolution, a revolution which was inspired by the American revolution and I think it will be a very good opportunity to jointly conduct a review of what has been done and all we can achieve together – and that is a great deal.”