Greece ratifies US defence deal amid anti-war protest

ATHENS (AFP) – Greece’s parliament on Thursday approved an updated defence agreement with the United States (US) allowing the use of Greek military facilities as hundreds protested outside.

A majority of lawmakers ratified the Mutual Defence Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) as hundreds of Communist, left-wing and anti-war demonstrators protested on central Syntagma Square.

The agreement, which updates a deal originally signed in 1990 when Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ father was premier, enables the use by US forces of Greek military facilities including the airbases of Larissa and Stefanovikio. Permitted actions for US forces at these facilities include training, refuelling, temporary maintenance, storage and emergency response.

The updated deal was originally signed last October during a visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“This agreement is beneficial to national interests,” Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told parliament.

The US is also granted priority status for “unimpeded access and use” within 48 hours of the port of Alexandroupolis, a Balkans and Black Sea gateway of strategic value to the US navy and NATO.