After the renewal of a mutual defense deal, United States military helicopters and other vehicles began arriving in the northern city of Alexandroupoli, coinciding with a surge in interest of investments from American companies.
Greek and American officials said it was the largest deployment of US forces through that port to the Black Sea and Eastern Europe, a move which has angered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Some 73 helicopters and 995 pieces of equipment moved through the cit with a total number reaching 2,000 units at an operational cost to the US Armed Forces of an estimated $4.5 million, reported the newspaper Kathimerini, which said it included 15 Apache and nine Black Hawk helicopters that will go to Stefanovikeio in Central Greece, where the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade will conduct winter training.
The news came at the same time that US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt said there was an expanding strategic role at Alexandroupoli for Greece, the US and the region and said there are two American bidders for the privatization of Alexandroupoli and Kavala (Black Summit and Quintana).
He said that the US-backed Alexandroupoli Floating Storage and Regasification Unit is “an important example of how this city can serve as a gateway to the wider Western Balkans, strengthening cooperation to diversify energy sources and routes, and to advance our shared climate security goals,” said Kathimerini.
Speaking at the Atlantic Resolve Distinguished Visitors Day in the northern Greek city, he said Alexandroupoli has become a key player for Greece in European energy and climate security and building regional stability.
Pyatt added that “the ever-growing volume of military activity here at the port of Alexandroupoli underscores this location’s expanding strategic role and importance for Greece, for the US and the wider region.”
In a column for the newspaper, Retired General Mikhail Kostarakos, former chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff and former chairman of the European Union Military Committee (EUMC) waved off Turkey’s objections.
“With 38 American installations in its own territory – 15 of which are military bases – Turkey should have little to say on the subject,” he wrote.
“We all recognize such observations for the provocative inanities that they are. They are obviously directed at a domestic audience and aimed at activating anti-Western, anti-American, anti-Greek and nationalist impulses and justifying the Turkish government’s revisionist and aggressive policies,” he added.