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Politics

Dendias: We Want US Military Presence in Northern Greece

ATHENS – The US-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA), awaiting the ratification of the second amended protocol in the Greek Parliament, will allow Greece to expand its horizons and avoid regressing into fearfulness, Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias said on Tuesday.

Dendias was addressing the National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, which reviewed the Second Protocol of Amendment. The ratification debate and vote at plenary level will take place on Thursday.

“We chose to amend and extend the agreement because we believe it serves the interests of the country,” Dendias explained. “We did not pretend, for the sake of the national interest, that Greece lies at a safe location. We wanted NATO’s military presence in the region and in Thrace.”

Dendias emphasized the key role of the Alexandroupolis port as an energy hub rather than a commercial port: “We discussed the ten-year extension of the agreement as well. A key point was the issue of Alexandroupolis. We want the strategic presence of the United States. Yes, we do not want Alexandroupolis’ port to be a commercial one: it is exactly this that bothered [Turkish President Recep] Tayyip Erdogan. We see this as the primary consideration for Thrace – the history of the region has changed with the creation of an energy hub. Geopolitically, the crisis in Ukraine affirmed what we are doing.”

Commenting on debate related to patriotic issues, Dendias said nobody is doubting anyone’s patriotism, but its meaning varies, as several times in Greek history it has been called on to express selfish personal agendas. “We believe in the need to keep Greece open in the Balkans and not captive to Greek-Turkish differences,” by the second amendment, he said.

The foreign minister also welcomed what he called “civilized dialog in the committee” despite the political differences between parties.

The MDCA’s second amendment was signed by FM Dendias and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on October 14, 2021.

As Blinken had noted in a letter to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in October, “The MDCA is the bedrock of our defense cooperation and has helped strengthen our common defense for more than three decades. This second amendment to the MDCA in as many years demonstrates the continued ability and resolve of the United States and Greece to address the security challenges of today and tomorrow through our strategic relationship.”

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