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Dendias to sign a new update of the MDCA Branch with Blinken

Featured Dendias to sign a new update of the MDCA Branch with Blinken

After the signing of the defense agreement with France and the purchase of the Belharra, the focus is now on the agreement that will be signed with the Americans.

On October 5, 2019, the revision of the Annex to the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) was signed in Athens by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Greece and the United States, Nikos Dendia and Mike Pompeo, respectively.

The agreement provided for the removal of older facilities that were not used by the Americans and the addition of three new ones that, together with Souda, would reshape the US footprint in the area: Alexandroupolis, Larissa Air Base and Army Air Base in Stefanovi.

However, immediately after the end of the 2019 talks and the signing of the agreement, the American side returned with a key issue on the agenda to change the duration of the agreement. In 2019, the Americans again proposed the eight-year or even the 10-year term, then renewed indefinitely, so that they can better plan potential investments.

The renewal then remained annual, but in the new round of contacts the two sides converged on the five-year renewal.

The new update

On October 14, Mr. Dendias is expected to sign in Washington, together with his American counterpart Anthony Blinken, a new update of the MDCA Branch.

In recent days, work has been raging between the two sides to close the two texts under negotiation: both the Annex and Mr Blinken's political Statement to accompany it (not a legally binding text).

On September 29, following a statement by a Foreign Ministry spokesman following the signing of the Greek-French strategic agreement in Paris by Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Emanuel Macron, there was confusion about the five-year or indefinite agreement.

But, the truth lies in the combination: the agreement will be renewed for a period of five years and then will be valid indefinitely, unless terminated by one of the two parties. In this case, the American side is said to have asked for a two-year period for its withdrawal.

The four locations

At the same time, it was decided that only four (adjacent) sites will be added to the current list of the existing four. These are the "Giannouli" Camp (in Alexandroupolis), the Crete Naval Base (in Souda), the Litochoro Pieria Shooting Range and the "Georgoula" Camp (near the Larissa Air Base and the Army Air Base in Stefanovikio.

The last negotiations were not fruitless either, and this was recorded in an article of "Vimatos" on April 4. Initially, the American side came up with a long list of locations (from 18 to 24, including Araxos, Andravida, Astakos, but also Skyros - which was ultimately not included in the agreement).

The Greek side also proposed a series of locations on the islands of the Eastern Aegean (Lemnos) and the Dodecanese (eg Rhodes, Karpathos). This move pushed the Americans to adapt to a more minimalist tactic to avoid friction with neighboring Turkey.

The attempt to include Greece in a series of defense assistance programs was also without result.

The key points

For the Greek side, the emphasis has recently been on achieving the best possible formulations in the political statement. In the past, the letter of April 10, 1976 of the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to his Greek counterpart Dimitris Bitsios took on rather mythical dimensions. For this reason, a new letter was requested in the previous review of 2019, which was sent in January 2020 by Mike Pompeo to Mr. Mitsotakis.

In the new Annex that will be signed next week, the Greek side succeeded in the repetition of the main points of the Preamble of the basic body of the 1990 Agreement, especially with regard to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. However, Athens wanted a better guarantee for the protection of both its sovereignty and its sovereign rights, if possible within the Annex. The American side appeared very defensive at this point and did not want direct reports in the Annex.

The US was more open in including such a reference in the Political Statement and the United States emphasizes in this text that it respects sovereignty, territorial integrity, sovereign rights and jurisdiction (of Greece) based on the provisions of International Maritime Law.