US Steps Up Interest in Military Presence in Greece

The US Embassy in Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos)

With Turkey continuing to provoke in the Aegean and East Mediterranean, the United States has refocused attention on building a greater military presence in Greece, and is talking to Greek officials about ways the armed forces of the countries can work together.

The US State Department reiterated American interest after a series of meeting had been held over the previous few months, a senior official said, the Turkish news agency Ahval reported with Ankara watching the developments after Turkey was barred from buying US F-35 fighter jets.

“We have seen a lot of activity in recent months and years, and our partnership with our ally Greece is fundamentally important to that,’’ the official said, with Turkey having drill ships looking for energy off Cyprus in that country’s sovereign waters, violating international laws.

Greece and Turkey, along with the United Kingdom – the former Colonial ruler which still has bases there – are guarantors of security for the island that was divided when Turkey seized and still occupies the northern third after an unlawful 1974 invasion.

Growing increasingly distant from the US under President Donald Trump’s administration, Turkey has turned more toward Russia after buying its S-400 missile defense system that NATO – to which Greece and Turkey belong – saying acquiring the system from a country that is a NATO ideological enemy could hurt the defense alliance.

The US became closer to Greece when the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA – which had been anti-American – came to power in January, 2015 and wants to keep the links tight with the new New Democracy government which came to power in July 7 snap elections.

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