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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsCongress Approves Amendment for New US Bases in Greece

Congress Approves Amendment for New US Bases in Greece

US bases Greek islands
A recent joint military exercise between Greek and US forces. Credit: Embassy of the US in Athens

The House of Representatives approved an amendment on Wednesday to examine a plan to construct US bases on Greek islands, allowing for the expansion of US military presence.

The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual authorization bill for the Department of Defense which was recently passed by House of Representatives, was spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY).

Meng is a member of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations.

The amendment requires that the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State jointly submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the security relations between the United States and Greece.

US bases on Greek islands

The report is to include an analysis of the potential for additional bases or expanded U.S. military presence in Greece, specifically on Greek islands.

The amendment comes as U.S. forces were granted access to four additional military bases in Greece under the expanded defense cooperation agreement signed by the two countries in October of 2021. In recent years, the Pentagon has stepped up military activities in Greece in response to Russian naval operations and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The phrase “throughout Greece” was added to the MDCA in 2021 to describe in which geographic locations new bases could be established. This specific quotation was utilized by Greece to recommend Limnos and, most crucially, Skyros as islands that may house a US military presence, and also to stress the need for a base in Alexandroupoli in northern Greece.

Former Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, the current defense minister, spearheaded the campaign to secure Skyros.

“I have been an adamant supporter of the U.S.- Greece relationship since my earliest days in Congress,” said Rep. Meng.

“Queens has a robust and active Greek community that I am proud to represent in Congress,” Meng said. “My amendment in support of the robust U.S.-Greece defense relationship, particularly with respect to the expansion of basing rights between our two nations, will only help to further fortify the bond between the U.S. and Greece. I thank the leadership of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus for supporting my amendment and I look forward to it becoming law.”

“We must continue to make progress deepening the relationship between the United States and our democratic allies in the East Mediterranean,” said Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH).

“As co-chair of the Hellenic Caucus, I’m pleased that this amendment to bolster our security cooperation with Greece was included in the House National Defense Authorization Act,” Pappas said. “I’ll continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to strengthen this critical partnership and protect America’s security interests.”

Rep. Gus Bilirakis: Strengthening our strategic partnership

“Greece has consistently proven itself to be one of the United States’ most reliable allies. This critical legislation strengthens our strategic partnership and enables continued security cooperation to facilitate enduring stability throughout the region,” said Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL).

“As President Biden moves to appease Erdogan, who has undermined our counter-ISIS operations in Syria, repeatedly threatened Greece with illegal flyovers and rhetoric of invasion, and is the only NATO leader who has not sanctioned Russia, it’s critically important for Congress to assess the security relationship between the U.S. and Greece which is one of our nation’s oldest allies,” said Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY).

“I’m pleased to see this amendment included in the NDAA and encourage the Biden Administration to proceed with caution to prevent future aggression against our Eastern Mediterranean allies,” she added.

“The security relationship that the United States and Greece share is too important to be overlooked in the NDAA process,” said Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV). “I joined my colleagues to make sure the Administration keeps Congress up to speed on how the updated Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement and the potential for a modified U.S. military presence can support our nations’ continued bilateral cooperation.”

“The American Hellenic Institute has appreciated the opportunity to work closely with Congresswoman Grace Meng, a strong supporter of U.S.-Greece relations, over the years,” said Nick Larigakis, the President of the American Hellenic Institute. “We applaud her recent work to add SEC. 1236 to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024, which mandates a report on the critically important security relationship between the United States and Greece.”

“This will help to expand the comprehension and awareness of the multifaceted partnership between two NATO allies, which will in turn improve global security, regional stability, and the protection of democratic values,” Larigakis maintained.

“The U.S. has realized an outstanding return on investment from its updated Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) with Greece,” said Endy Zemenides, Executive Director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council. “Alexandroupolis in particular has become one of the key assets for NATO and Western security since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

“The NDAA Amendment authored by Representative Meng and supported by the Hellenic caucus is critical because it allows Congress and the public to see exactly how the MDCA has advanced our national security and our alliances, and where the room for growth is,”concluded Zemenides.

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