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Politics

Pappas, Bilirakis, Maloney Lead Bipartisan Call to Increase IMET for Greece

WASHINGTON, DC – On April 27, Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01), alongside Hellenic Caucus Co-Chairs Congressman Gus Bilirakis and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney led their colleagues in a bipartisan call for fiscal year 2023 appropriations to include $1.8 million for International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance for Greece and $100,000 for the Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and United States 3+1 Cooperation Interparliamentary Group.

“United States cooperation with Greece, Cyprus, and Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean has grown remarkably in recent years,” wrote the lawmakers. “Congress has already recognized the importance of the enhancement of regional cooperation with the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act, which was signed into law in 2019. To maintain this historic momentum, we respectfully request you provide $1.8 million for IMET assistance for Greece and $100,000 for the Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the United States 3+1 Interparliamentary Group.”

This call is supported by the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), American Jewish Committee (AJC), American Hellenic Institute (AHI), Coordinated Effort of Hellenes, PSEKA, AHEPA, and Daughters of Penelope.

Also among the bipartisan group who signed the letter are Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis, Congressman John Sarbanes, and Congresswoman Dina Titus.

The full text of the letter can be found below and online: https://bit.ly/3OIWFmH.

Dear Chairwoman Lee and Ranking Member Rogers:

As you prepare the Fiscal Year 2023 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill, we strongly urge you to support U.S.-Greece bilateral relations and strengthening United States regional cooperation with Cyprus, Greece, and Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean. Specifically, we respectfully request: $1.8 million for International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance for Greece; and $100,000 for the “Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the United States 3+1 Interparliamentary Group” (the U.S. Interparliamentary Group).

Signed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (P.L. 117-81) (FY22 NDAA), the United States-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act of 2021 (USGDIP) reflects the evolution of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Greece into a strategic one by authorizing the appropriations for IMET assistance to Greece and the U.S. Interparliamentary Group. The USGDIP recognizes that Greece is a pillar of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and that the United States should remain committed to supporting the region’s security and prosperity through cooperation with Cyprus, Greece, and Israel.

The USGDIP underscores the need for greater investments in IMET for Greece by authorizing $1.8 million in appropriations for each of Fiscal Years 2022 through 2026 (Sec. 1315, P.L. 117- 81). Until this year, the amount of IMET funding appropriated for Greece has been $1 million per fiscal year. In 2019 and 2021, Greece utilized all appropriated funds (utilization in 2020 was lower due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The significant increase of IMET assistance appropriations will help meet the increased need for education and training of the Greek Armed Forces, a crucial part of its modernization. Since 2019, women officers participate in programs supported by IMET assistance and the Greek Ministry of Defense has expressed its intent to further promote their participation. In addition, the funds will facilitate the establishment of contacts between American and Greek officers, which will optimize cooperation and interoperability between the Armed Forces of the two countries, to the benefit of stability and security in the Eastern Mediterranean and in accordance with United States interests in the region.

The USGDIP also recognizes the importance of the “3+1” cooperation framework among Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the United States by establishing the “Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the United States 3+1 Interparliamentary Group” and authorizing $100,000 for each fiscal year to assist in meeting the expenses of the U.S. Interparliamentary Group (Sec. 1316, P.L. 117-81). The establishment of and funding for the U.S. Interparliamentary Group supports the “3+1” format of cooperation as a successful forum and encourages its expansion to include other areas of concern. The U.S. Interparliamentary Group will serve as a legislative component to the 3+1 process and discuss issues such as maritime security, defense cooperation, energy initiatives and countering the malign influence efforts of the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation. The U.S. Interparliamentary Group shall consist of a group of not more than 6 United States Senators who shall be appointed in equal numbers by the majority leader and minority leader of the Senate. The majority and minority leader of the Senate shall also serve as ex officio members of the U.S. Interparliamentary Group. The group shall meet with members of the “3+1” cooperation framework at least once a year. For that reason, the FY22 NDAA authorizes the appropriation of $100,000 per fiscal year to assist in meeting the expenses of the U.S. Interparliamentary Group. The U.S. Interparliamentary Group will serve as a framework of fruitful exchange to promote regional cooperation in new areas of mutual concern between the United States and the three like-minded democracies of the Eastern Mediterranean, a strategically crucial area at the crossroads between three continents.

United States cooperation with Greece, Cyprus, and Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean has grown remarkably in recent years. Congress has already recognized the importance of the enhancement of regional cooperation with the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act, which was signed into law in 2019. To maintain this historic momentum, we respectfully request you provide $1.8 million for IMET assistance for Greece and $100,000 for the Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the United States 3+1 Interparliamentary Group.

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