Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos on Monday announced plans for a second, reinforced naval base at Souda Bay in Crete.
The announcement was made during his brief to Parliament’s defence and foreign affairs committee at the Ministry in Athens.
“This is in our plans, both because it is dictated by circumstances but also because our country must have a presence in the Eastern Mediterranean. For this happen, the Crete Naval Base needs to be upgraded and strengthened,” Panagiotopoulos said.
The Defence Minister also pointed out that the ratification of two agreements between Greece and the USA on a mutual fuel supply program for the air force and navy, reflects the deepening and strengthening of the cooperation between the two countries.
“It is good to show that the strategic cooperation between the two countries is being upgraded, expanded, strengthened, and it is good to know that this process is also progressing,” he added.
ND, SYRIZA and KINAL voted in favour of the two agreements. KKE and MeRA25 voted against them.
Panagiotopoulos said the new base at Souda is a part of the government’s plan for upgrading the armed forces and enhancing their capabilities.
“The Americans assign enormous strategic importance to Souda. But the Greek side also attaches great importance to its upgrading and strengthening, something that is imposed by the current situation. Our country wants to make its presence felt in the Eastern Mediterranean, and this will be done through the upgrade of Souda. Funds have already been allocated for an upgraded armaments program, with the aim of gradually but substantially upgrading the infrastructure of the Armed Forces. Souda is part of our plan, so that it becomes an organised and strengthened naval base, in order to be, on a permanent basis, the support of the naval units,” he said.
On Monday, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in Thessaloniki to carry out a review of the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue in the lead up to the third Strategic Dialogue to be held in Washington next year.
The Greek Foreign Ministry released a joint statement with the US that confirmed that the two countries “shared views on the Eastern Mediterranean and reaffirmed their belief that maritime delimitation issues should be resolved peacefully in accordance with international law.”
“In this regard, the United States welcomed Greece’s confirmed readiness to engage with other countries in the region to achieve maritime delimitation agreements through dialogue and in accordance with international law. The United States and Greece also reiterated their dedication to enhancing their close cooperation as NATO Allies, using all appropriate means at their disposal, in order to safeguard stability and security in the wider region,” it continued.
On Tuesday, Pompeo accompanied by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will visit the US naval base at Souda Bay.
A meeting with an expanded delegation is scheduled at the 115 Combat Wing headquarters of the Hellenic Air Force, to be followed by statements to the press.