ATHENS — Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt described the military base in Souda, Crete as being critically important for peace and stability in the wider region of the Mediterranean and a key pillar of strength for crucial areas facing problems, during their visit to the military facilities on Friday. Panagiotopoulos and Pyatt were accompanied by Hellenic National Defence General Staff (HNDS) Chief General Constantinos Floros.
After the end of the visit, Panagiotopoulos said the level of the infrastructure at the facilities was excellent and underlined the very good cooperation between the Greek and US Armed Forces and the deep strategic relationship between the two countries.
"Our visit here today has a strong symbolism because Souda clearly and iconically expresses the strategic relations between Greece and the United States," Panagiotopoulos said.
He also referred to the common Greek and US vision for peace in the region: "Greece and the USA have expressed their concern over the illegal and provocative actions that raise tension in the region and always point out the importance of respect for international law and good neighbourly relations."
The Greek minister said that "we have made absolutely clear that Greece is always ready to defend and safeguard its sovereign rights, which derive from international treaties and international law, and to effectively deter any action against them".
On his part, Pyatt said that Souda was a "daily and strategic" arena for promoting Greek-US cooperation. In this context, Pyatt highlighted the importance of the Gulf of Souda for the USA and said that the US will continue to invest in this cooperation and build the strongest possible alliance between the two countries "in order to bring peace and stability in this complex and frequently difficult area".
Focusing on the base of Souda, the US envoy said it was the spearhead of defence cooperation between Greece and the United States, noting that it plays two key roles for the US government. "First of all, it is the most important platform for the promotion of US power in the strategically dynamic region of the Eastern Mediterranean, from Syria to Libya and the Black Sea. This offers a comparatively important advantage to the US, as the US Navy and other means are used for the support of the alliance's duties and for peace and stability in the region."
The other aspect of the Gulf of Souda, which was lesser known, was that it's the most important area of expression of everyday cooperation between the Greek and the US armed forces, he added.
Pyatt also expressed his support for the EU's Irini mission in Libya, underlining that the USA shares with its ally Greece the certaintly that the solution to the war in Libya is for foreign forces to stop supplying weapons and forces that further stoke the violence in the country.
Finally, he referred to Panagiotopoulos' imminent visit to Washington and his meeting with his US counterpart Mark Esper.