Joint military exercises are now underway between the Special Forces from Greece, Cyprus and the United States. The exercises are ongoing in the Mediterranean off the coast of the Souda Bay base on Crete, according to reports from state-run Athens-Macedonia news agency (ANMA).
The trilateral exercise is just another in the long history of military cooperation between the three countries, which have strengthened their ties as of late.
According to reports, it was designed by the Greek National Defense, or GEETHA, to enhance the already strong cooperation and interoperability between the militaries of each nation.
During the past year, when Mediterranean tensions appeared to be at an all-time high due to the repeated incursions of Turkey into the territorial waters of both Greece and Cyprus, the three countries forged much closer ties than they ever enjoyed before.
Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas last September in a meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Greek Foreign Minister Dendias.
The areas discussed were wide-ranging, including defense and security as well as investment, energy, education and culture, according to a joint statement released after the meeting in Thessaloniki.
The two officials conducted a high-level review of the US-Greece Strategic Dialogue as well, ahead of the third Strategic Dialogue, to be held in Washington in 2021. On the occasion of this high-level review, they confirmed the two countries’ mutual desire to deepen their cooperation in many areas.
Pompeo posted the following message on Twitter after the meeting.
Always fantastic to see Greek Foreign Minister @nikosdendias. Today in Thessaloniki, we discussed the enduring strength of the U.S.-Greece relationship, the Western Balkans, and de-escalation of tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. pic.twitter.com/lKVV3yJjxN
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 28, 2020
The full statement released after the meeting is below.
“The United States and Greece shared views on the Eastern Mediterranean and reaffirmed their belief that maritime delimitation issues should be resolved peacefully in accordance with international law. In this regard, the United States welcomed Greece’s confirmed readiness to engage with other countries in the region to achieve maritime delimitation agreements through dialogue and in accordance with international law. The United States and Greece also reiterated their dedication to enhancing their close cooperation as NATO Allies, using all appropriate means at their disposal, to safeguard stability and security in the wider region.
“The two sides reiterated their desire to continue and strengthen their cooperation in various sectors in the framework of the 3+1 format (Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the United States), which was launched in Jerusalem in March 2019, as this partnership can contribute to the promotion of peace, stability, security, and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider region. The United States and Greece reiterate their support for the integration of all the countries of the Western Balkans into European and Transatlantic institutions according to the choice of their citizens. They highlighted Greece’s efforts to this end, noting the continued relevance of the Prespes Agreement and North Macedonia’s subsequent accession to NATO, while underscoring the importance of its consistent implementation in good faith.
Defense and Security
“Greece and the United States expressed their intent to further enhance their strategic defense and security partnership by expanding and deepening the U.S.-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement, which was last updated in October 2019 and greatly contributes to the security of both nations. In the coming Strategic Dialogue, both sides intend to discuss how to further assist each other in maintaining strong, capable, and interoperable militaries.
Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism
“The United States and Greece took note of their security cooperation based upon a shared interest in protecting the safety and security of both nations from terrorists, transnational criminal organizations, and other threat actors. Despite the global pandemic, outstanding U.S.-Greece law enforcement cooperation on arrests, seizures, and extraditions has continued unabated.