Friday, March 24, 2017
Kammenos seeking stronger military ties with US
Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said on Thursday that he would like to discuss with US authorities the possibility of extending the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) between the two countries from one year to five years, or even more.
Speaking Thursday during an event at the US Congress organized by the Greek American Institute, Kammenos said he was in the US to meet on Friday with Secretary of Defense James Mattis and “discuss the extension of our defense cooperation, not just for one more year, but for the next five or 10 years.”
The MDCA is currently renewed annually, and it is through this deal that the Americans have permission to use the naval base at Souda, Crete.
Kammenos has made no secret of his desire to include Greece in American military aid programs, like Israel and Egypt. Both these countries have benefited from their agreements with the acquisition of ships and aircraft from the US.
On the level of defensive cooperation, Athens currently receives aid from the US, but not in the form of heavy arms, like Israel and Egypt.
The defense minister, who has expressed a willingness to allow an American base on a Greek island – possibly Karpathos – also described the US as a “true ally” that has helped in the reconstruction of Greece.
The Greek Defense Ministry has already sent letters to Washington asking for help in modernizing the country’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets, and has inquired about the price and availability of fifth-generation F-35 jets.