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    Getting Comfortable: Why is the US Seeking Closer Ties With Greece?

    CC BY 2.0 / Rennett Stowe / Greek and American flags
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    The Greek newspaper Kathimerini, citing various sources, has reported that Athens and Washington are considering ways to further consolidate the presence of US weapons systems in Greece. The different options being discussed include deploying more drones and flying tankers to a military airbase in Larissa in central Greece.

    The United States is ready to expand the scale and scope of its military exercises with Greece, taking them to a new level, the newspaper Kathimerini reported. Kathimerini also reported that Greece, in turn, would expect American ships to dock more frequently at its Aegean seaports.

    At present, negotiations between Athens and Washington are focused on the military airbase in Larissa as the US contract for using the base is set to expire in August, so possible options for an extension are being discussed.

    The "strengthening" of Greek-American relations has been met with a mixed reaction and some scepticism among analysts. Experts have told Sputnik of the possible dangers that this sudden increased US interest in Greece could bring.

    Several analysts were quick to note that the starting point of this courtship between Greece and Washington was the deterioration of relations between Turkey and the United States.

    "There is no doubt that in international relations one event affects the other. And one situation is reflected in another", Constantinos Filis, research director at the Institute of International Relations in Athens told Sputnik.

    In explaining his point of view, the scholar provided a synopsis of the US-Turkish crisis.

    "It was not a sharp, but a gradual deterioration in bilateral relations, and now we are witnessing the very peak of this drama. Mutual distrust has existed for a while", he explained.

    "This means that American high-ranking officials have begun drafting certain plans, seeing that Turkey has long deviated from the West. In alternative US plans for Turkey's withdrawal from the Western chariot, the role and position of Greece has begun to rise".

    In addition, the scholar mentioned the Prespa Agreement*, the adoption of which, he believes, has contributed to strengthening the role of Greece in the eyes of NATO leaders.

    This view is shared by Antonis Klapsis, Ph.D., lecturer in the History of Diplomacy at Panteion University, who said that the Greek-American "flirting" is "partly linked to the developments in Turkey because the United States strives to have stable support in the Eastern Mediterranean region".

    "The fact that relations between Turkey and the United States are deteriorating will certainly motivate Washington to develop closer ties with Greece and Cyprus". In the end, if Turkey completely and irreversible broke off its relations with the United States, some experts believe that Washington will activate its "Plan B" for the Eastern Mediterranean region, in which Greece has a key role.

    Dr Konstantinos Grivas, Associate Professor of Geopolitics at the Evelpidon Military Academy, has warned against such a development of events and noted that there's a possibility of mistakenly believing that American "support" of Greek interests should be taken for granted.

    Greek analysts are monitoring geopolitical events in the Eastern Mediterranean region and prefer a degree of sobriety and balance when it comes to Athens' dealings with Washington, at a distance from the "warm embrace" of the United States.

    Constantinos Filis has called on Greece to distance itself from the confrontations between the United States and other countries, and was quick to remind that "we are a country that wants to pursue, as much as possible, a balanced and multi-faceted policy".

    In this context, he clarified that Greece "should not become either a staging area for American attacks or an American satellite. If this happens, we will lose most of the potential that we have, and the geopolitical role that we play".

    So what is this role and what is the main "weapon" of Greece? "Of course, the fact is, that until recently we had the most balanced international policy based on maintaining good relations with all of the world powers, including Russia and China", Mr Filis explained.

    "It is not in our interest to become a US satellite", he stressed, while calling for a balanced and diversified foreign policy, based on avoiding the adoption of one-dimensional strategies as well as avoiding the inclusion of Greece in the sphere of American "direct influence".

    READ MORE: US Seeks to Expand F-35 Jet Sales to Greece, Romania, Poland

    For his part, Antonis Klapsis argues that Greece must react to the unfolding events with caution and prudence.

    "We are a small country, and we must weigh each action two or three times", he said.

    According to Mr Filis, "Greece cannot be at the forefront of US operations, become the centre or the base of these operations, or get involved in conflicts, the solution of which exceeds its capabilities".

    He asserted that "this is something which we will not strive for, because in the end we are not expected to benefit from it. We will benefit more from a balanced policy than from a one-dimensional policy", he summed up.

    *The Prespa Agreement is a treaty between Greece and North Macedonia on the new official name of the former Yugoslav Republic. It was signed on 17 June 2018 by the foreign ministers of Macedonia and Greece on the shore of Lake Prespa, along which the border between the two countries passes. In particular, it stipulates the renaming of the Republic of Macedonia to the Republic of Northern Macedonia.

    The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Prespa Agreement, NATO, Turkey, United States, Greece
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