Greek Defense Minister Nikos Penagiotopoulos has said that Athens and the United States will likely modernize its existing military bases being used by the U.S. military.
Earlier, Greece was expected to build new bases through the renewal of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA).
“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,” Penagiotopoulos told Ta New daily on Saturday.
Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias is expected to sign the MDCA extension agreement in Washington on Thursday. The most likely outcome will be a five-year extension, an upgrade from the current one-year duration of the agreement.
U.S. forces in Greece have a rotating presence in several locations, including Volos, Stefanovikeio, the port of Alexandroupoli and Larissa air base, besides the Souda Bay naval base on the island of Crete.
F-15 fighter jets operated by the U.S.A.F. participated in joint exercises with the Hellenic Armed Forces last week. The U.S.’ friendship with Greece is expected to irk Turkey, the latter’s arch rival.
In September 2020, Ron Johnson., the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee for Europe, told the Washington Examiner, said the country may leave the strategic Incirlik Air Base located in Turkey’s southern Adana province, and relocate it to the Greek islands. “We don’t know what’s going to happen to Incirlik. We hope for the best, but we have to plan for the worst…. We’re already looking at Greece as an alternative,” he stated.
Turkey’s relationship with the U.S. soured after it bought S-400 missile systems from Russia after being denied Patriots. Washington has refused to sell F-35 jets to Turkey citing security reasons, kicked the country out of the F-35 Lightning II project and even slapped sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for buying military equipment from Russia.
Ankara has also expressed concern over Greek Parliament’s ratification of a defense cooperation treaty with France that will allow them to come to each other’s aid in the event of an external threat. It is also seeking Belharra frigates and additional Rafale jets.