The final signatures for the new type of Greece – USA Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) will be inked today in Washington by Foreign Ministers Nikos Dendias and Anthony Blinken, who will meet on this and in the third round of the two strategic dialogue.

Speaking to “Vima tis Kyriakis”, a few days before his departure for Washington, Nikos Dendias praised the fact that while the US is adjusting its presence internationally, they remain in Greece for five years and then indefinitely adjust the force of the agreement.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs notes three important changes that made the revision of the agreement, which he signed two years ago, imperative:

First, our strategic relationship with the United States is at another level. It is now at its highest point. The new agreement is the culmination of this unique relationship – which in turn is complemented by the relations we have developed with our northern neighbors, the countries of the Middle East, but also European countries, such as France. Others are to follow.

Secondly, the security environment in our area has changed drastically. Unfortunately, Turkey provokes almost on a daily basis. Let us also not forget the events in Evros and the “Oruc Reis”. And of course the threat of war persists, with Turkey having the largest amphibious fleet in the Mediterranean opposite the Aegean islands.

Third, the US strategic and military footprint is being transformed and transferred. The United States is now investing in temporary presence in the territory of other states, not on a permanent basis, as was the case in previous decades. Their focus is on the Indo-Pacific, as the recent agreement with Australia and Great Britain shows. European countries are now willing to pay to maintain the US presence on their territory. “Greece is the exception to this trend, which indicates, if nothing else, the American interest in our country’s strategic position, as well as the stabilizing role we play in the wider region.”

What will the agreement provide for

On October 5, 2019, the revision of the Annex to the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) was signed in Athens by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Greece and the United States, Nikos Dendia and Mike Pompeo, respectively.

The agreement provided for the removal of older facilities that were not used by the Americans and the addition of three new ones that, together with Souda, would reshape the US footprint in the area: Alexandroupolis, Larissa Air Base and the Army Air Base at Stefanovikio.

However, immediately after the end of the 2019 talks and the signing of the agreement, the American side returned with a key issue on the agenda, the change of the duration of the agreement.

In 2019, the Americans again proposed the eight-year or even the 10-year term, then renewed indefinitely, so that they can better plan potential investments.

The renewal then remained annual, but in the new round of contacts the two sides converged on the five-year renewal.

Today, Mr. Dendias is expected to sign in Washington, together with his American counterpart Anthony Blinken, a new update of the MDCA annex.

In recent days, work has been freneticbetween the two sides to close both the texts under negotiation: both the Annex and Mr Blinken’s political Statement to accompany it (not a legally binding text).

On September 29, following a statement by a State Department spokesman following the signing of the Greek-French strategic agreement in Paris by Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Emanuel Macron, there was confusion about the five-year or indefinite agreement.

But as “To Vima” revealed on the same day, the truth lies in the combination: the agreement will be renewed for a period of five years and then will be valid indefinitely, unless terminated by one of the two parties. In this case, the American side has reportedly asked for a two-year period for its withdrawal.

The four locations

At the same time, it was decided that only four (adjacent) sites will be added to the current list of the existing four.

These are the “Giannouli” Camp (in Alexandroupolis), the Cretan Naval Base (in Souda), the Litochoro Pieria Shooting Range and the “Georgoula” Camp (near the Larissa Air Base and the Army Air Base in Stravoke Army).

The last negotiations were not fruitless either, and this was recorded in an article of “Vima” on April 4. Initially, the American side came up with a long list of locations (from 18 to 24, including Araxos, Andravida, Astakos, but also Skyros – which was ultimately not included in the agreement).

The Greek side also proposed a series of locations on the islands of the Eastern Aegean (Lemnos) and the Dodecanese (eg Rhodes, Karpathos).

This move pushed the Americans to adapt to a more minimalist tactic to avoid friction with neighboring Turkey.

The attempt to include our country in a series of defense assistance programs was also without result.

The key points

For the Greek side, the emphasis has recently been on achieving the best possible formulations in the political Declaration.

In the past, the letter of April 10, 1976 of the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to his Greek counterpart Dimitris Bitsios took on rather mythical dimensions. For this reason, a new letter was requested in the previous review of 2019, which was sent in January 2020 by Mike Pompeo to Mr. Mitsotakis.

In the new Annex that will be signed next week, the Greek side succeeded, according to “To Vima”, the repetition of the main points of the Preamble of the main body of the 1990 Agreement, especially with regard to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.

However, Athens wanted a better guarantee for the protection of both its sovereignty and its sovereign rights, if possible within the Annex. The American side appeared very defensive at this point and did not want direct reports in the Annex.

It was more open in including such a reference in the Political Statement and according to the information of “Vima”, the United States emphasizes in this text that it respects sovereignty, territorial integrity, sovereign rights and jurisdiction (of Greece) based on and the provisions of International Maritime Law.

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