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Greece to Sign Mutual Defense Agreement with US

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Nikos Dendias, Greek FM. Credit: Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs

After the defense agreement with France inked just weeks ago, Greece is getting ready to sign an amendment to its defense deal with the US at the end of this week. It will mark the renewal of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA), first signed in 1990.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will travel to Washington on October 13-14 to participate in the third round of the Greece-US Strategic Dialogue. Along with his US counterpart Antony Blinken, he will sign the second amendment protocol to the MDCA.

According to an announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on October 13, Dendias will also meet with Greek-American Congressman John Sarbanes. He will then meet with Senator Chris Van Hollen.

He will also have a meeting with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid, who will be in Washington. Dendias will then attend a reception with representatives from the Greek community.

On October 14, he will visit the State Department, where he will hold a private meeting with the US Secretary of State, while extended talks will follow. The two ministers will also inaugurate the third round of the Greece-US Strategic Dialogue.

Further defense agreement

After a joint press conference, the signing of the second protocol and the amending of the MDCA will follow. According to reports, the agreement will include a stipulation that four additional US military base locations will be added, adjacent to the current four.

Those are the Yannouli Military Camp in Alexandroupolis, Souda Bay Naval Base in Crete, the firing range at Litohoro in Pieria, and the Georgoula Military Camp (near the Larisa airbase and the Army Air-Force base in Stefanovikio).

Athens was hoping the US would augment its presence across more locations in Greece. But one option it offered, of air and naval installations on the island of Skyros, has already been turned down by the Americans.

“US will keep being a key strategic partner of Greece”

Defense Minister Nikos Penagiotopoulos told Ta Nea newsdaily on Saturday that Greece and the US have chosen to invest in the existing four bases in Greece. “I believe that, at this stage, the deepening of the cooperation is more important than expanding in other locations. This position obviously expresses both sides,” he said.

“The United States is and will continue to be a key strategic partner of Greece,” Panagiotopoulos said. “The MDCA reflects exactly this relationship, which has been constantly upgraded over the last years.”

U.S. forces in Greece have a rotating presence in several locations. Those include the port of Alexandroupoli and Larissa Airbase, as well as the Souda Bay US naval base on Crete.

Last year, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said the US was making plans to leave the Incirlik air base in Turkey’s southern Adana province. It might be relocated to the Greek islands, he said.

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