Greece ratified a landmark defense agreement with the U.S. on Thursday just days before PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis is due to visit the White House.
It was approved by 181 votes and rejected by 119. Of the 181 votes, 157 belonged to ruling New Democracy, 22 to PASOK-KINAL and 2 to independent MPs.
During the debate in Parliament on the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA), Mitsotakis appealed to lawmakers’ sense of patriotism.
“The American writer Mark Twain said that patriotism is to support your country at all times and your government when it deserves it,” he said in his speech to MPs, outlining the benefits of the agreement, which has now been extended from one year to five years.
“The specific agreement,” it was said, “ceases to be a bilateral protocol and becomes a vote of confidence in Greece as an unshakeable factor for stability, as a prudent European and NATO partner that guarantees international legality in the face of any crises stirred by our neighbors. Of a crucial hub on the energy map.”
Agreement with U.S. “upgrades Greece’s significance”
This was an agreement, he noted, that upgraded Greece’s significance and affected not just defense and diplomacy but primarily the economy and energy sector.
“Our country is made the United States’ key partner and interlocutor in the broader region,” he said of the agreement.
The MDCA’s was signed by FM Dendias and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on October 14, 2021.
It explicitly states that the United States and Greece “resolve to defend sovereignty & territorial integrity both against actions threatening peace and armed aggression.”
The text is the closest that a conventional text comes to condemning Turkey’s casus belli with Greece.
On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador George J. Tsunis met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is traveling to Washington for a meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House on Monday.
“We discussed how the US and Greece can work together to strengthen our remarkable alliance promoting security and prosperity, building on our fantastic momentum,” Tsunis tweeted.
Honored to meet with @PrimeministerGR Mitsotakis ahead of his visit to Washington and meeting with @POTUS Biden. We discussed how the US and Greece can work together to strengthen our remarkable 🇺🇸🇬🇷 alliance promoting security and prosperity, building on our fantastic momentum. pic.twitter.com/fvdlmvn6eT
— George J. Tsunis (@USAmbassadorGR) May 12, 2022
During his visit to Washington, Mitsotakis will address a joint congressional session. This is the first time that a Greek prime minister has received such an invitation from the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The idea for a speech on democracy was taken on the occasion of the celebration of the anniversary of the 200 years of Greek independence. The Congress thus wanted to honor Greece, recognizing that it is the cradle of democracy and that Greek ideals inspired the fathers of the American nation.
Leftist opposition against the MDCA agreement
Leftist opposition leader Alexis Tsipras has said his SYRIZA party will not support a defense deal between Greece and the United States, while accusing the conservative government of making sweeping concessions to Washington without gaining anything in return.
Speaking in Parliament Thursday ahead of a vote on the ratification of MDCA, Tsipras accused the New Democracy administration of green-lighting the utilization of Greek military facilities by American forces for an indefinite period of time and of conceding the northern port of Alexandroupoli to the US amid the war in Ukraine without receiving any meaningful benefits in return.
Tsipras said that Greece is being reduced to a “US satellite” at a time when Washington appears ready to reward Turkey with new weapons and military equipment.
Earlier Thursday, protesters from the Greek Communist Party unfurled banners at the ancient Acropolis against the military deal. The banners, in both Greek and English, read “No to war. No to the bases of death.”