With tensions simmering in the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Black Sea, with both Russian and Turkish military interventions and deployments, the U.S. has just been granted access to four additional military bases in Greece.
This follows increased joint training between Greek and U.S. military forces last year, and a newly ratified mutual defense agreement with France.
France, Turkey and the U.S. are all members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – which is built on the idea of collective defense, so that an attack on one member nation is considered an attack at all.
However, the U.S. has been increasingly frustrated by Turkey’s aggressive independent military actions, including intervening in Syria, and buying advanced Russian military hardware such as the S-400 air defense missile system, against U.S. wishes.
But the U.S. isn’t the only one clashing with Turkey. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias signed the new expansion of a defense cooperation agreement in Washington as Greece deals with ongoing air and sea tensions with its neighbor as well.
According to Newsweek:
The U.S. forces will be able to train and operate “in an expanded capacity” at the additional Greek bases, Dendias said. He told the Associated Press after the signing ceremony that the agreement was not “against anybody else,” although it would put U.S. troops just miles away from Turkey.
“It’s an agreement between Greece and the United States of America, and the purpose of the agreement is the stability and prosperity of both our countries,” Dendias said.
Greece is pinning much of its defense strategy on close military cooperation with France and the United States as it remains locked in a volatile dispute with Turkey over sea and airspace boundaries. Greek officials also have been actively pursuing other international agreements, with partners in the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere.
The expanded Greek-U.S. agreement, which builds on an existing one, will run for five years with automatic renewal, Greek officials said.
While NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg earlier this month appeared to criticize Greece’s newly ratified mutual defense agreement with France, Dendias said Greece’s mutual defense deal with France “is an agreement that is complementary to NATO.”
“It does not diminish the role of NATO,” he added. ADN