In view of the recent agreement for the extension of Greece’s bailout program, the article stresses the country’s importance because of geopolitics and its defense ties with the United States.
In recent days, the U.S. has put pressure on key European leaders once more. This reflects the perils that would arise if Greece cut loose from NATO and western alliances overall.
Greece quit NATO’s military wing for six years in 1974 after Turkey invaded and occupied northern Cyprus. In 1981, Greeks elected the first socialist government in the country’s history. The Panhellenic Socialist Movement PASOK pledged to kick out American military bases and ultimately take Greece out of NATO. That never happened.
Several members of the current leftist government want to see Greece out of NATO. Yet, this is unlikely to happen now. Greece hosts a NATO air and sea base on Crete and an aircraft base near Albania. Greek aircraft and navy vessels are listed among NATO assets.
So far Greece has capitalized on its role as a NATO member. However, its strength and bargaining power has decreased as more southeast European countries have joined the alliance.
New defense minister Panos Kammenos states that Greece will stay in NATO for the foreseeable future. He is in favor of Greek-American ties, yet, as a devout Greek Orthodox Christian, he has turned an eye towards Russia. Greece’s reluctance to impose sanctions on Russia and the way some members of the new government show their sympathy for the country may hint at the creation of new alliances.
Therefore, the American administration is concerned about Greece’s future in the western alliance as the Alexis Tsipras government is unknown to them and subsequently unpredictable. “The fear of “losing” Greece is palpable but has less to do with its military value and more to do with general fear of defenses unravelling, says Wayne Merry, a fellow of the American Foreign Policy Council. Any breach in the dyke would bode ill, especially as Islamist fighters in Libya are just a speed-boat ride away,” the report says.