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GREEK NEWS

U.S.-Greece Defense Partnership Legislation Introduced to Senate

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US-Greek military exercise near Xanthi in May. Credit: courtesy of U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Greece

A bill to strengthen the military alliance between the U.S. and Greece, with America helping Greece improve its military with new technology and equipment was introduced in the US Senate on Wednesday.

Titled “U.S.-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act of 2021”, it was initiated by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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The legislation authorizes expedited delivery of any future F-35 aircraft and delivery of excess defense articles to Greece.

Key Provisions of the legislation include:

Support for Greek Military Modernization:

  • Authorizes European Recapitalization Incentive Program (ERIP) assistance to Greece to support Greece’s transition away from Russian-produced military equipment
  • Authorizes $1 million per year in International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance for Greece for FY2022 – 2026
  • Expresses the Sense of Congress that the U.S. should provide direct loans to Greece for the procurement of defense articles, defense services, and design and construction services pursuant to the further development of Greece’s military force

Transfer of American Military Equipment to Greece:

  • Authorizes expedited delivery of any future F-35 aircraft ordered by Greece
  • Requires that the delivery of excess defense articles to Greece be given the same priority as that given other countries and regions
  • Requires the Secretary of Defense, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, to submit a report to Congress on Greece’s defense needs and how the United States will seek to address such needs through transfers of excess defense equipment to Greece

US must bolster defense relationship with Greece

Chairman Menendez released a statement detailing the logic of the legislation, stating “As a reliable NATO ally, Greece plays a critical role in promoting security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. The 200th anniversary of Greek independence reminds us of the long history of U.S.-Greece cooperation based on our shared commitment to democratic values, and we must continue building that cooperation in the years to come.”

“In order to ensure that the Eastern Mediterranean remains secure, the U.S. must bolster its defense relationship with Greece by supporting Greece’s efforts to modernize its armed forces. This legislation seeks to strengthen the bonds of friendship between the U.S. and Greece in order to advance our shared values, promote security cooperation, and support a secure Eastern Mediterranean for years to come.”

“This bipartisan legislation will continue to enhance defense cooperation with Greece, a valued NATO ally,” said Senator Rubio. “By extending Foreign Military Assistance to Greece and establishing an interparliamentary partnership with democratic countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, this legislation reaffirms our strong commitment to the region at a time when malign actors are working to undermine international security and stability.”

The U.S.-Greece Defense Partnership Act of 2021 not only bolsters our defense relationship with Greece, but also advances shared values, promotes security cooperation, & strengthens the bonds of our friendship. https://t.co/jSJNTMyaMv

— Senate Foreign Relations Committee (@SFRCdems) June 9, 2021

Biden Administration and Menendez stand with Greece on Turkey

Menendez has argued that Turkey “is constantly violating international law when it threatens Cyprus and its exclusive economic zone, when it declares an economic zone going to Libya that is not recognized at all but interferes with Greece’s economic zone.”

The Chairman also highlighted Turkey’s “aggression against Armenia through Azerbaijan,” and noted its “nefarious role” in Libya.

“So, what are we doing to counter Turkey under Erdogan? And, I say Turkey under Erdogan because it’s not about the Turkish people, but it’s certainly about its leader,” Menendez asked.

Ankara and Washington have been struggling to repair ties, strained in recent years over several issues, including Turkey’s purchase of Russian defence systems which resulted in U.S. sanctions, policy differences in Syria, as well as Washington’s alarm over Ankara’s human rights track record.

Joe Biden, who in a late 2019 interview with the New York Times called Turkey’s leader an “autocrat” and talked of emboldening Turkey’s opposition to force him out of office. Erdogan adviser Ibrahim Kalin later said this analysis of Biden’s stemmed from “pure ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy.”

Things have improved little in the interim. Days after taking office, the Biden administration criticized Turkey’s imprisonment of political foes like Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas and philanthropist Osman Kavala.

In April, Biden became the first US president in 40 years to recognize the Armenian genocide, upsetting Turkey, which rejects that label.

He also waited three months after taking office to speak with Erdogan on the phone, which many viewed as an intentional slight.

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