Having abandoned his anti-American, anti-NATO stance to get support for his reneging on anti-austerity promises and pressing reforms under a third bailout, Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras’ government is reportedly looking to allow a greater US military presence and additional weapons.
The countries are looking at what was called “flexible” options to further consolidate the presence of American weapons systems in Greece, Kathimerini said, including stationing more drones or flying tankers at the Greek military air base in Larissa.
With relations between the countries ironically said their best with the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA that is filled with vehement anti-Americans, the US also wants to increase its participation participation in Greek military exercises and to expand their scope.
The paper said that included the Iniohos military exercise which is expected to become a large-scale drill as US relations worsen with Turkey – despite having a base there – and with Turkey increasing violations of Greek airspace and waters and wanting to buy both US-made F-35 fighter jets and a Russian S-400 missile defense system.
With growing military cooperation, Greece now also expects American ships to dock more frequently at Aegean Sea ports, the paper said. The US operates a naval base at Souda Bay on Crete but is said to be eager to have another base, once unthinkable with Tsipras and SYRIZA railing at the Americans at their ideological enemy.
Besides US backing for his economic policy and a 180-degree turn from opposing austerity in order to get a third bailout from European creditors, this one for 86 billion euros ($97.18 billion) in the summer of 105, Tsipras reportedly hopes dealing with the Americans will help Greece gain a geopolitical advantage in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean.
That comes as Greece, which had been wanting to upgrade its aging fleet of US F-16 fighter jets, was said to also be thinking of buying F-35’s to prevent Turkey from gaining a strategic The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act was submitted to the US Congress aiming to boost Greece and Cyprus, both militarily and diplomatically and a key Hellenophile and Cypriot backer, New Jersey Democratic US Senator Robert Menendez, came to Cyprus on an unofficial visit to press for an end to a US arms embargo there.
Discussions between Athens and Washington revolve around the Larissa military air base, where two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), MQ-9 Reaper-type drones, are currently stationed, the paper said.
It reported that with contract for their stay at the Larissa base expiring in August, two options are likely, one the possibility of stationing KC-135 tankers there, while the second sees replacement of the MQ-9 Reapers with other UAVs, namely Global Hawk RQ-4.
The use of the Stefanovikeio air base in central Greece by US helicopters is also expected to continue, with the ports of Alexandroupoli or Thessaloniki serving as stopovers for flights to eastern Europe with Greece trying to strike a balance between a tighter alliance with the US and keeping Turkey at bay.