The United States and Greece finished conducting joint military drills on Tuesday. The US Army and the Hellenic Armed Forces had spent the prior ten days together strengthening their military ties through naval and land exercises.
The exercises, known as Olympic Cooperation 21, were written into the U.S. and Greece’s Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA.) The Greek military worked together with the American 1st Infantry Division running drills with armored vehicles in Petrochori, Xanthi.
The training gave both country’s military forces a deeper understanding of each other as the U.S. prepares to expand its presence in Greece beyond Xanthi and into Alexandroupoli.
The two countries also held a joint military drill in the Aegean. In the statement released by the Greek general staff, it was stated that the two countries held a joint training exercise in the Aegean, and Greek head of General Staff Konstandinos Floros and U.S. Ambassador to Athens Geoffrey Pyatt visited the warship USS Mount Whitney, from the U.S.’ 6th Fleet, which participated in the exercise.
— Geoffrey Pyatt (@USAmbPyatt) November 16, 2021
In the statement, it was noted that communications and maneuvering exercises were carried out in the PASSEX type exercise, in which ships of the Greek naval forces and warplanes from the Greek Air Force also participated.
US and Greece renew Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement
The US and Greece strengthened their bilateral ties last month by signing the renewal of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA).
At a ceremony at the Department of State, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described Greece as a reliable ally and pillar of stability during his joint statements with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.
“We believe that, together, Greece and the United States can become an even more powerful force for peace, for prosperity, and for human dignity. Because fundamentally that is what we both stand for,” the US Secretary said.
He added that the strategic dialogue covers regional, political, and economic cooperation; defense and security; energy and climate; trade and investment; law enforcement and counterterrorism; humanitarian challenges, disaster response; and people-to-people ties.
Commenting on the MDCA, Blinken said: “This update will allow the agreement to remain in force indefinitely, and it enables U.S. forces in Greece to train and operate from additional locations. We’re strengthening our defense cooperation today.”
For his part, Dendias said that Greece’s actions are based on peace, while reminding that our country faces a threat of war from Turkey if it exercises its sovereign rights.
“In the Eastern Mediterranean, where Greece is facing a casus belli, a threat with war if it exercises its sovereign rights and, I have to say, Greece is facing daily provocation. Greece is committed to resolve disputes with diplomacy and always in accordance with international law,” Dendias said.
The Greek Foreign Minister also referred to the defense cooperation between Greece and France, emphasizing that it strengthens the European arm of NATO.
“This agreement will contribute to enhancing our defense. It will also contribute in enhancing the European pillar of NATO, which is very, very important, and towards a fairer burden sharing between the two sides of the Atlantic, because Greece is and will remain a fully committed ally to NATO.
“We will strive to enhance relations between the European Union and the United States, as well as between the European Union and NATO, as part of our contribution to strengthening the transatlantic bond, which is the cornerstone of our foreign policy,” the Greek foreign minister added.
The five-year renewal will allow Washington to invest in Greece strategically and geopolitically, said Greek diplomatic sources. The two ministers will also inaugurate the third round of the Greece-US Strategic Dialogue.
The extension comes one week after the Greek Parliament ratified a pact with France which states Greece will purchase three French frigates that will be delivered in 2025 and 2026. It also includes security cooperation between the two countries, a move hailed by both sides as a step toward European strategic autonomy.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has emphasized that the agreement includes mutual defense assistance in the event of an attack on either county by a third, referring to the “casus belli” declared by the Turkish National Assembly in 1995.