As its ties with Greece tighten – ironically thanks to the previously anti-American Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras changing its stance – the United States said the opportunity now exists for deals in security, investment and trade.
That was cited in the State Department’s Integrated Country Strategy (ICS), said Kathimerini, put together at almost the same time as the recent US-Greece Strategic Dialogue in Washington.
Tsipras, who came to power in 2015 vowing to end any American military presence in the country and to take Greece out of NATO has reneged on both, as he did with promises to reject austerity measures before imposing more to get a third bailout, this one for 86 billion euros ($98.35 billion).
He had gotten backing from the US in his dealings with the country’s international creditors but at the same time Washington said Greece had to stick to reforms and austerity driving down Tsipras’ popularity as low as 10 percent.
The anti-nationalist Tsipras also made a still-unfinished deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to rename that country North Macedonia and remove Greek vetoes barring its entry to NATO and opening European Union accession talks.
That agreement was brokered with the help of United Nations envoy Matthew Nimetz, an American lawyer who failed for two decades to end a name feud between the countries but last year renewed talks after a three-year break amid speculation it was done to get what would be North Macedonia into NATO as a bulwark against Russian interests in the Balkans.
“The public and private support the United States provided Greece throughout its nine year economic crisis and more recent migration crisis spurred a reversal of decades of anti-Americanism,” according to the report which sees an opportunity for the US Embassy in Athens to further cultivate bilateral ties.
The US’ official position, parroted frequently by US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, is that Greece is “a pillar of stability in a complicated region,” despite backing from Tsipras and SYRIZA for furloughs for a former Nov. 17 terror group leader behind the murders of 23 people, including five Americans attached to the Embassy over the years.
“By encouraging Greece to grow its role in the European energy sector and pushing education reform, Embassy Athens will combat global adversaries’ attempts to exploit Greece’s geopolitical importance and structural vulnerabilities to destabilize the region and incite anti-Western sentiment,” the report said according to the paper.
The State Department analysis is part of a missionwide four-year strategy setting priorities on how to deal with Greece which occupies a key geopolitical position and as Tsipras has warmed to the idea of a greater US military presence after not moving to force the closing of a US Navy base on Souda Bay in Crete as he vowed.