Greece-US strategic relationship strengthened by Alexandroupoli port upgrade, officials say

Alexandroupoli Geoffrey Pyatt Konstantinos Floros Panagiotopoulos

The port of Alexandroupoli has improved its operations significantly due to the collaboration between Greece and the US, Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said at the Atlantic Resolve Distinguished Visitors Day in the northern Greek city.

"Greece is a reliable, strong, and consistent ally and a pillar of stability in the region," the minister said.

He reiterated that "what is now happening in Alexandroupoli is not of an aggressive nature against anyone, and any such remarks are ridiculous."

Greece is not threatening anyone, but will defend its territory against any attack while at the same time "boosting our diplomatic efforts in all directions" to strenghten alliances, the minister noted.

Panagiotopoulos said that the fact a wheat cargo ship has tied at Alexandroupoli is an example of the upgrade of facilities at the port, because in the past it was not able to handle simultaneous docking of large ships.

The minister also underlined the efforts of US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt "in the entirety of this large project, both in the upgrade of the Greece-US strategic partnership agreement in defense and in what is unfolding here in Alexandroupolis."

Ambassador Pyatt

Speaking at the event, Ambassador Pyatt said that "the ever-growing volume of military activity here at the Port of Alexandroupoli underscores this location’s expanding strategic role and importance for Greece, for the United States and for the wider region."

He added that it also demonstrates America's strong commitment to NATO and the strength of the two countries’ 200-year partnership.

Speaking extensively on the recently updated Greece-US Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA), the ambassador said that it enshrines the commitment by both countries to address the security challenges of today and tomorrow through a strategic relationship.

The MDCA "is not a ceiling, it's a platform upon which we can continue to grow and expand our strategic relationship," he pointed out.

This day, he said, "marks the largest transfer of U.S. military equipment through the port of Alexandroupoli to date," with the arrival of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade from Fort Hood in Texas on its way to Stefanovikio that will operate in Europe for the next nine months.

Meanwhile the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade is heading back Fort Riley, Kansas, with its 27 helicopters and 259 pieces of military hardware after nine months of service.

US investment interest

Pyatt revealed that there were two strong American bidders for the privatization of Alexandroupoli and Kavala (Black Summit and Quintana), while adding that the American-invested Alexandroupoli Floating Storage and Regasification Unit is "an important example of how this city can serve as a gateway to the wider Western Balkans, strengthening cooperation to diversify energy sources and routes, and to advance our shared climate security goals."

"Alexandroupoli is playing an increasingly important role," he said, "in bolstering European energy and climate security and building regional stability."

The partnership with Greece has become "one of America's strongest defense partnerships in Europe," the outgoing ambassador noted, thanking the Greek government for its commitment and support of US and allied military operations.

"A stronger and more secure Greece is important to America’s interests in this region.

"Deepening and expanding defense cooperation between our democratic nations not only benefits us, but it makes NATO stronger and more capable.

"And that’s exactly what we’re doing here in Alexandroupoli today," Pyatt concluded.

READ MORE: Erdoğan’s AKP: “Turkey will take Thessaloniki in five hours and then Athens”