ATHENS – Despite denouncing vacations from jail for a convicted terrorist behind the murders of five Americans attached to the US Embassy over the years, the United States wants to build bigger military presence in Greece and is working with Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, who said he would stop that.
With relations deteriorating with Turkey – which keeps provoking Greece in the Aegean, the Wall Street Journal said American military officials are in negotiations to expand in Greece, including using more Greek air and naval bases.
The paper cited unidentified American officials who said that relations between the US and Greece are getting closer – even though the US backs the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey that could be used against Greece – and that there are geographical and geopolitical factors suddenly making Greece more attractive for the US military.
The paper said that US officials who visited Greece recently said both the government and the opposition are receptive to strengthening military ties, while Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman and Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford said that the “geography of Greece and the opportunities here are pretty significant.”
The US though wants to keep a foot in both countries and keep using Incirlik Air Base in Turkey as well as bases in Greece. Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos earlier said he was keen on the US even building another base in Greece.
With the US being the honored guest at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) this year, Tsipras is backing away from promises to remove any American military presence in Greece, with the US Navy having a base on Souda Bay, Crete.
Tsipras also has reneged on promises to take Greece out of NATO and helped the US interests with his anti-nationalist party behind a deal to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to get that country into the defense alliance. He also broke pledges not to have Greek troops overseas and sent detachments to help NATO in Afghanistan.
Keen on getting American investments as well to help him reverse a slide in polls after reneging on anti-austerity promises, and breaking his pledge to halt the sale of state assets, Tsipras is now getting even cozier with the US although he and his Foreign Minister, Nikos Kotzias, were former Communist youth leaders and are working with their ideological enemy.
His party backed repeated furloughs for Nov. 17 terrorist group leader Dimitris Koufodinas, who was moved from a high-security prison to a work farm amid speculation that the table is being set for his outright release.