“Neither soil nor water to the murderers of the people”. With this slogan, thousands of working men and women, trade unions, the Greek Committee for International Detente and Peace (EEDYE), the Federation of Greek Women (OGE) and students’ unions marched on Friday, September 17 in Athens against NATO’s Military Committee which convened in the Greek capital on 17-19 September.
Masses of protesters gathered at Eleftherias Square and then marched towards the U.S. embassy, denouncing the strengthening of the so-called Greece-USA “defence agreement” which turns the country into a vast US-NATO military base. The demonstrators called for the decisive organization of the struggle against the dangerous policy of the Greek government, against the country’s involvement in the US-NATO imperialist plans which pose grave threats for the people.
The mobilization was attended by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Dimitris Koutsoumbas who made the following statement:
“We are here today on the occasion of the NATO Military Committee’s meeting and the Euro-Mediterranean Summit in Athens. Both events foretell new sufferings for the people at a time when all competitions are intensifying internationally, especially after yesterday’s (on 16/9) agreement between the United States, Britain and Australia.
During the next period, until 2030, we will have an intensification of all military conflicts and interventions, new refugee flows. This is the forecast in an international scale. And from this point of view, the Greek government bears huge responsibilities because it leads the people to such war plans, it leads the country through NATO and, of course, especially with the expansion of the dangerous Greece-USA Agreement on Military Bases.”
It is particularly heartening to see trade unionists, women’s groups and youth and students involved in opposition to NATO. In Canada agencies claiming to represent these constituencies openly endorse Canada’s participation in NATO and NORAD. Opposition to NATO is now absent from the NDP platform. A resolution presented to its policy convention for withdrawal from NATO was not even allowed to be debated. It reveals the taboo imposed by the cartel parties on any discussion about NATO whatsoever. In the United States political figures claiming to represent those constituencies voted to a one for the infamous NATO Support Act of 2019.
One of several items on the summit published in Ante Bellum, the informative online Journal on NATO, reports that “the agenda for the Conference was…that the Military Committee…could provide guidance to the Strategic Commanders and advice to the NATO Secretary General and the North Atlantic Council.
“The Military Committee received briefings from NATO’s Strategic Commanders, General Tod Wolters, Supreme Allied Headquarters Commander Europe (SACEUR) and General André Lanata, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT) on the concept of Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic area and NATO’s Warfighting Capstone Concept.
“The Chief of Defence discussed enduring threats and peacetime challenges. They stressed how the geopolitical environment was changing and the line between peace and crisis was increasingly blurred. The Military Committee then deliberated the changing nature of warfare and how the Alliance needs to maintain pace with the speed of technological change.”
Expansion of U.S. bases in Greece
Against the backdrop of the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, top US military officer, Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, participated, hoping to forge more basing, intelligence sharing and other agreements….
On September 12, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis admitted that Greece and the US were in talks to extend their Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) by five years, instead of one-year renewals now in force. There would be a “more important US presence in our country, possibly in areas where they currently do not have a presence,” he said, without elaborating. He added that Greek-US strategic cooperation “is at its best level ever.”
Earlier in October 2019, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Greece to sign an updated version of a defence cooperation agreement with Greece intended to upgrade and expand US-NATO bases in Greece. Greek military sources [said] a second naval base will be created at Souda on Crete. Greece’s most pressing request concerns the integration of the air and naval facilities on the island of Skyros, which the US Armed Forces will be able to use on rotating or a fixed basis.
Based on the existing provisions of the MDCA, the American armed forces have, apart from Souda, a rotating presence in a number of other locations, such as Stefanovikeio, the port of Alexandroupoli and Larissa Air Base.
For Athens, the possible addition of another location to the wider region of Eastern Macedonia or Thrace (Xanthi or Chrysoupoli airport, which was once considered a stopover for NATO UAVs) would always be welcome.