PHOTO Join Special Forces personnel. Credit: Hellenic National Defence General Staff
Special Forces from Greece, Cyprus and the United States are currently engaged in joint military exercises on the North West coast of Crete. The exercises are underway and coordinated from Greece’s Naval Base (Ναύσταθμος Κρήτης, Nafstathmos Kritis). The military asset is referred to by NATO as Souda Bay and serves as the second-largest naval base of the Hellenic Navy (in terms of warships harboured). The base is the largest and most significant for the United States and NATO in the eastern Mediterranean.
The trilateral exercises are indicative of the long history of military cooperation between the three countries. The activity were promoted by the Hellenic National Defence General Staff in order to maintain the interoperability between the respective military forces of each country.
Tensions in the region are at an all-time high as a result of the repeated incursions of Turkey into the territorial waters of both Greece and Cyprus. Greece has taken steps to re-affirm their bilateral relations this week with the United States.
The areas discussed in the September 2020 round of meeting (Thessaloniki) were wide-ranging, including defence and security as well as investment, energy, education and culture, according to a joint statement released after the meeting in Thessaloniki.
Principal Deputy Spokesperson Cale Brown said on 28 September 2020:
“Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Dendias discussed the strong US-Greece bilateral relationship, deepening science and technology ties, and close cooperation on energy diversification and infrastructure projects. They also agreed on the need for peaceful resolution of any disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean in accordance with international law, and the Secretary welcomed all efforts to deescalate tensions and return to dialogue.”
The statement was released by the US Department of State with respect to the strategic dialogue.
“The United States and Greece shared views on the Eastern Mediterranean and reaffirmed their belief that maritime delimitation issues should be resolved peacefully in accordance with international law. In this regard, the United States welcomed Greece’s confirmed readiness to engage with other countries in the region to achieve maritime delimitation agreements through dialogue and in accordance with international law. The United States and Greece also reiterated their dedication to enhancing their close cooperation as NATO Allies, using all appropriate means at their disposal, to safeguard stability and security in the wider region.”
“The two sides reiterated their desire to continue and strengthen their cooperation in various sectors in the framework of the 3+1 format (Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the United States), which was launched in Jerusalem in March 2019, as this partnership can contribute to the promotion of peace, stability, security, and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider region…”