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Politics

Tsunis, Dendias and Hardalias Visit Souda Air Base

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Deputy Defence Minister Nikos Hardalias, accompanied by the the chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, General Konstantinos Floros, the chief of the Hellenic Air Force General Staff, Lieutenant General Themistoklis Bourolias, and U.S. Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis, visited the 115 Combat Wing at the Souda air base on Tuesday, in order to participate in the Distinguished Visitors Day during the bilateral Greek-US joint training exercise “Poseidon’s Rage 22”.

They visited an exhibition of US F-35 fighter jets, according to a foreign ministry post on Twitter.

 

Ambassador George Tsunis with deputy constable Nikos Kartsakis, a member of the ambassador’s security team during his visit to Chania, and a longtime acquaintance.

Dendias: ‘We are building the strongest Greece we have ever seen’

“In the midst of the constant crises, through self-sacrifice, effort, self-abnegation and all of us dependent on the sacrifices of the Greek people, we are building the strongest Greece that we have ever seen,” Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias noted at Souda air base on Tuesday, in statements at the conclusion of the bilateral Greek-US joint training exercise “Poseidon’s Rage 22”.

“I have to say that I am extremely honoured to be here today as the “Poseidon’s Rage 22” Exercise is coming to an end. Greek and US pilots trained together over the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean in a broad spectrum of scenarios and a broad spectrum of missions, but with just one goal: to preserve peace, stability and democracy,” Dendias said.

He pointed out that this training was taking place for the second year in a row and that during the last years, Greece and the US have significantly upgraded their defence cooperation, among others with two Protocols.

“We added to our original Agreement new military installations in mainland Greece. And I have to say that the Russian invasion of Ukraine proved we were correct in our strategic foresight. The Alexandroupolis port has become a major point of entry for the deployment of US forces, but also an important energy hub.

“Greece and the US have once again stood shoulder-to-shoulder to safeguard our fundamental values despite the unprecedented attack that our values have received from the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” he added.

Both the US and Greece had sent humanitarian and military assistance to Ukraine and both had imposed heavy sanctions on Russia, as did all of their allies with one notable exception, he pointed out.

“The basic truth is that our historically turbulent region cannot afford any more provocative, aggressive and revisionist actions and behaviours. We need to work together to preserve peace, security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond.

“Greece has been moving along this path for the last years. And in this spirit, we signed the Agreements for the delimitation of the maritime zones with Italy and Egypt. We agreed with Albania to refer the issue to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. We created the East Mediterranean Gas Forum. We signed Agreements with France and the UAE. We have developed numerous multilateral forms of cooperation with our trusted regional partners. And I have to say, including the 3+1 cooperation with Israel and Cyprus – as Israel and Cyprus being the ‘3’, plus ‘1’, the US. And if you’ll allow me to express the hope that this will become ‘4’ the soonest,” Dendias said.

The minister expressed Greece’s satisfaction to have the F35s “Lightnings” for the first time, pointing out that this was the first live fire training of the F35s in Europe, as well as the first deployment of an entire squadron to another base.

He also expressed hope that there will soon be joint training of US and Greek F35s, with the Greek F16s and Rafales present to commemorate the occasion.

In an earlier statement to reporters, meanwhile, Dendias had noted that the key message from his visit to Souda and the 115 Combat Wing was that “the USA and the Hellenic Republic stand together against revisionism, against anything that threatens the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.”

Speaking in an exhibition of F-35s, he said that the two countries stood together in the name of protecting international law, based on these excellent machines and the excellent human personnel of their respective air forces.

“What is happening is an exercise that underscores our willingness to protect the values of democracy, stability, security and territorial integrity,” the minister said.

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