The disparity between what is reported and the actual events can sometimes be truly remarkable. Recently, the US House of Representatives passed an amendment, which some news media and political parties interpreted as a signal for the imminent establishment of US bases on certain Greek islands.
However, this interpretation is inaccurate, as such a move faces opposition from America’s deep state, which aims to avoid upsetting Turkey.
Let’s begin with the background. In 2021, Greece and the US initiated negotiations to renew their mutual defense cooperation agreement. Athens had two main objectives: first, to incorporate American bases in regions deemed “sensitive” for Greek-Turkish relations, and second, to obtain assurances of Washington’s commitment to ensuring stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Two locations were under consideration for the new bases: Alexandroupoli in northern Greece and Skyros in the Sporades island complex. Reports at the time indicated that the US Embassy in Athens proposed a plan that included both areas.
However, the proposal for the Skyros base was rejected by the president’s National Security Council, the State Department, and the Pentagon, citing concerns about Turkey’s potential reaction. Even for Alexandroupoli, there were objections.
It is essential to note that these discussions took place before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The approval for including Alexandroupoli in the base list came with a condition that the American presence there should be discreet. As a result, many American politicians and officials tend to describe their visits there as “private.”
Greek diplomats raised objections to signing the deal, arguing that it did not secure enough concessions. However, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and then-foreign minister Nikos Dendias insisted on moving forward, believing that the American presence in Alexandroupoli held strategic significance and symbolism. Subsequent reactions from Ankara and developments in the region vindicated their stance.
Regarding the guarantees, the letter from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken fell short of the well-known exchange between former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and his Greek counterpart Dimitris Bitsios in the 1970s, which holds significant importance in Greek-American relations.
So what is the meaning of the amendment? Representatives of the Greek-American lobby, engaged in a continuous “guerrilla warfare” with the deep American state, which adheres to the doctrine of “not doing anything that upsets Turkey,” were involved in drafting the amendment.
Its purpose is twofold: (a) to provide members of Congress with a comprehensive report, explaining the importance of the Souda base on Crete and Alexandroupoli, with the intention of convincing Congress to approve significant sales of used military equipment to Greece, and (b) to encourage relevant agencies to address the issue of creating new bases on Greek islands.
That’s the story behind the amendment. No one in Washington is making immediate plans to install a base on any island. Any other speculations largely fall into the category of “It’s August, let’s make some noise.”
This article was originally published in Ekathimerini.
The views and opinions expressed above are the author’s and do not represent those of the Free Turkish Press.