Greece is becoming a bastion of new NATO plans
Greece plays a unique role in NATO's ambition to keep Russia out of Ukraine and the rest of the region. NATO allies are putting substantial forces and weapons at various bases in Greece under the new agreements struck by the Greek administrations. On the Greek-Turkish border, Alexandroupolis plays a significant role in the latest NATO preparations.
The Giannouli camp, located 20 kilometres from the Greek-Turkish border, will begin housing NATO units in a few weeks, according to the most recent information from the Greek press. The camp is now finishing preparations for the delivery of the NATO components.
In September, a sizable American transport vehicle is planned to arrive and unload munitions to Alexandroupolis. The British have already placed a regular military adviser at the port of the city. Other NATO countries will send military personnel to the region, such as the UK.
The Italian Armed Forces have finished moving their armoured and other military vehicles from the port of Alexandroupolis to the Bulgarian border. Military convoys recently transported Italian armoured vehicles loaded onto trucks to Baltic and Balkan nations. On the ship "SEVERINE," these cars arrived earlier in Alexandroupoli. The "EDDYSTONE," a cargo ship owned by the British Ministry of Defense, stopped also at Alexandroupoli port for the second time in two months.
Greece develops into a geostrategic center, according to top US official
Robert Menendez, a US senator and head of the (potent) Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, visited NATO's preparations at Alexandroupolis a few days ago. Along with George Tsounis, the US ambassador to Greece, Menendez examined NATO's preparations during his official visit to the country.
Menendez spoke with Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greek Prime Minister, before his visit to Alexandroupoli. Menendez and Mitsotakis spoke at a meeting that took place on Friday at the Prime Minister's Maksimou Residence in Athens about the importance of the military infrastructure in Alexandroupoli and Greece's other military outposts in relation to US-NATO goals.
At the meeting, Mitsotakis made specific mention of "Act on Defence and Inter-Parliamentary Partnership between the United States and Greece," which shows the country's deeper involvement in US-NATO plans, as well as the 4th Round of the Strategic Dialogue between Greece and the United States, which will be held in Athens in October.
The Mitsotakis-Menendez discussion also covered international developments, particularly the Russian invasion in Ukraine. Menendez said he was "appreciative of Greece's firm attitude, which has supported Ukraine from the outset by giving humanitarian help and defence equipment." Menendez focused on Alexandroupoli, stating that in the future, "Greece will become a geostrategic centre for the region and the Allies".
Alexandroupolis’ "key position" in the NATO’s plans
Analyst Ioannis Doukas, who follows developments in the Washington-Athens axis, notes that the port of Alexandroupolis has now been labelled by Alliance circles as a vital point by the NATO, showing that the region and consequently the nation are becoming crucial for the Alliance's military and operational activity.
"Attempts have been made to accomplish this goal since the Syriza era. Greece’s political system acknowledged a significant foreign policy goal. The region is currently drawing more interest", continues Doukas, who also underlines this: "Its location, whose worth is increased by its inclusion in the global energy map, as well as its economic activities and prospects, which provide simple access to the trade routes of the East and West and vice versa, explain the attraction. American specialists predict that the US and NATO will use the port (of Alexandroupolis) more frequently as the tensions in these regions may have reached their peak and there are no other viable options."
The expert continues, adding: "It should be kept in mind that the Russo-Ukrainian War has caused the Bosphorus Straits to be blocked to warships under the Montreux Treaty, making Alexandroupolis the best and most straightforward option for Allied forces to transit through its port. Its airport can help NATO and the EU by delivering military personnel, weaponry, and other updated capabilities. For Greece, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe, the project to build a twin railway bypass of the Bosphorus Straits from Alexandroupolis to Ormenio through Burgas to Varna to Rousse is also strategically important."
Dukas draws the following conclusion after linking NATO's movement along the Greek-Turkish border with the continuing conflict in Ukraine: "The Pinpoint Factor, as Americans refer to it, is significant to the port of Alexandroupolis. It is one of the global geographic locations that connects the geopolitical power chains of the United States and NATO and serves as a symbol of the might of the military alliance to which we belong."
The Greek Left opposes the NATO plans
Large segments of the Greek Left are opposed to the new NATO plans for Alexandroupolis, in contrast to the conservative New Democracy administration and its backers. One of the Greek opposition groups that has historically opposed the expansion of NATO's activity and influence in Greece is the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). A few months ago, the party organised a citizen movement to voice its opposition to NATO plans for Alexandroupolis.
The ‘Movement for National Defence’, backed by KKE, in a relevant statement stressed that "Preparations for the new, unprecedented "landing" of US military forces in the port of Alexandroupolis are intensifying. These forces should take part in the US operation (not exercise) "Atlantic Resolve,” as confrontation with Russia escalates across the border from the Baltic to the Black Sea coast. Since 2019, besides "Atlantic Resolve", the port of Alexandroupolis has been transformed into a base for US-NATO troops, also for large-scale NATO war rehearsal exercises, such as "Defender Europe" and other co-training exercises."
The same communiqué also includes the following information: " The Syriza government launched the "Strategic Dialogue" with the US, which included the creation of a US military facility in the port of Alexandroupolis. The New Democracy government took up the mantle and signed an improved accord. The port and the "Giannouli" camp in Alexandroupolis are included in the amended arrangement for the US bases in Greece, which are currently for five years and will last indefinitely. The agreement allows the US military to employ any Greek armed forces unit. The new regional route connects all the locations where the American forces will be camped at the same time as the airport, which is connected to the port through a railway line. This will guarantee direct military equipment circulation, highlighting the fact that the entirety of Alexandroupolis will serve as a huge US-NATO outpost."
According to KKE, "these developments are dangerous and involve our country even more in imperialist antagonism. Simultaneously, they expose people and sovereign rights to grand adventures and dangers. The new US-NATO base in the port of Alexandroupolis does not provide any security, as some have claimed. Its existence will be a magnet for retaliatory strikes, as other countries (Iran, Russia) have clearly stated."
*Dr Nikolaos Stelgias was born in Istanbul. He is an independent researcher, writer, historian and journalist. His doctorate is in the field of the modern Turkish political system (Panteion University, 2011). His latest book “The Ailing Turkish Democracy” was published by the Cambridge Scholars Publication in 2020. Dr. Stelgias was a correspondent of the newspaper "Kathimerini (Cyprus edition)" for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community from 2009 to 2021. Currently, Dr. Stelgias works at the Cyprus News Agency. Dr. Stelgias publishes in Turkish news articles and analyses on Cyprus and Greece on the news website 'Duvar".