Defence Minister Panos Kammenos and U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt celebrated the 70th anniversary of the operation of the Greek-American Office of Defence Cooperation (ODC) during an event at the Club of armed forces officers on Thursday, noting the need for a deepening of bilateral relations.
“Greece looks forward to deepening ties with the US and building further ties, not just between the two governments but also between the business communities of our two countries, hoping to strengthen existing relations,” Kammenos said in his speech at the event.
The minister also asked for U.S. support in “providing relief” to the country no just for its economy but for “the security of the region”.
“We need the help of the united States to extend our Navy capabilities so that it can operate from Crete to Suez to stop the financing of terrorism through the illicit trafficking of drugs, arms and illegal oil,” he added.
Kammenos also expressed optimism that the two countries will soon sign a multiannual defence cooperation agreement.
“Souda served us during the Cold War and continues today to support our operations in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, North Africa,” the Deputy Commander of U.S. European Command, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Timothy Ray, said, and called on Greece to continue to play its leading role in ensuring security in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans.
Ambassador Pyatt said Greece supports U.S. operations in the wider region particularly through the base in Souda Bay in Crete, which provides a strategic advantage and an ability to tackle challenges with flexibility and effectiveness in the wider region.
At the same time, he welcomed the fact that Greece is contributing military forces to NATO’ Kosovo force and that the country is meeting its NATO defence spending requirements of 2 percent of GDP annually, as well as assisting US and NATO forces.