Greek parliament approves defense pact amendment ahead of PM’s visit to US

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The Conservative prime minister is due to meet President Joe Biden at the White House on Monday and the two leaders are expected to discuss the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis and tensions in the Mediterranean.

The US-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA), first signed in 1990, allows US forces to train and operate on Greek territory.

The latest amendment, agreed in 2021, expands cooperation by allowing the presence of US forces in four more military areas, including two military camps in central and northern Greece and a naval base on the island of Crete.

Mitsotakis told parliament that the deal protects the country from security threats, will allow for an upgrade of military installations and is a vote of confidence for Greece, which is becoming an energy hub in the region after the invasion. of Ukraine by Russia.

“The text (of the agreement) that we are called upon to ratify… paints a new reality,” Mitsotakis said. “The United States is expanding its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean…and our country is becoming in the clearest way the principal partner and interlocutor of the United States in the region.

He said the agreement gains significance in the context of the war in Europe.

Left-wing protesters marched through central Athens against the ratification of the pact.

Greece believes that the agreement, which will remain in force for at least five years, will also help protect it against “threats” on its northern land border with Turkey and in the eastern Mediterranean, where long-standing territorial disputes oppose the two NATO allies. .

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the agreement the “foundation” of defense cooperation between Greece and the United States.

Mitsotakis will address the US Congress on May 17.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; editing by Grant McCool)

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