Greek parliament ratifies U.S. defence deal

The Greek Parliament on Thursday has ratified a defence agreement with the United States, with 175 votes in favour, Greek daily Kathimerini reported.

Thirty three lawmakers voted against the deal, while 80 voted present.

The agreement, first signed during U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Athens in October, will increase joint activity by the United States, Greece and NATO in Greek military bases in Larissa, Stefanovikio and Alexandroupolis in central and northern Greece, and provide infrastructure improvements in a U.S. naval base in the Greek island of Crete, according to Kathimerini.

Greece and the United States have joint interests and the deal will improve Greece’s armed forces, Greek Defence Minister Nikolas Panagiotopoulos said in a speech in the parliament before the vote, Turkish daily Yeni Şafak wrote.

The United States understands that Greece is a bastion of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, Yeni Şafak quoted Panagiotopoulos as saying.

Voting against the deal, left-wing opposition SYRIZA called for more comprehensive support from the United States against Turkish activity in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, Kathimerini said.

Tensions remain high between Greece and Turkey over drilling for natural gas and Turkey’s maritime deal with Libya, which contradicts Greek and Cypriot territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.

Turkey on Friday announced that exploration and drilling efforts in the Eastern Mediterranean would continue.