Thousands of Greeks protest expansion of US military presence

Athens, May 12 (EFE).- Thousands of people marched in this capital and other Greek cities on Thursday in an ultimately failed effort to dissuade parliament from approving a renewal of the military cooperation agreement with the United States that gives Washington the right to deploy forces to four additional bases.

Answering a call from trade unions, the Greek Communist Party (KKE), and the extra-parliamentary left, protesters also railed against Greece’s provision of armaments to Ukraine as part of an “imperialist war” waged on behalf of the US and NATO.

The march in Athens culminated in Syntagma Square, home to parliament, as lawmakers prepared to ratify the extension of the 1990 military pact with the US.

Banners reading “No to war. No Involvement. No to the bases of death” in Greek and English were unfurled on the Acropolis early Thursday by around 100 members of the KKE, which condemns both the Russian invasion of Ukraine and NATO’s response.

Ultimately, parliament, where Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ conservative New Democracy party has a majority, approved the renewal of the US-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA).

In the debate before the vote, the premier argued that the MDCA is vital to ensuring Greece’s territorial integrity amid chronic tensions with neighbor and fellow NATO member Turkey.

The protest organizers denounced the enhanced MDCA as involving Greece even more deeply in “the dangerous plans” of the US to battle China and Russia for control of energy, resources, and trade routes.

Parliament confirmed the MDCA renewal days before Mitsotakis is scheduled to travel to Washington for talks with President Joe Biden that the Greek government expects to produce an explicit statement of US support for Greece in its dispute with Turkey.

But according to The Wall Street Journal, the Biden administration is urging the US Congress to approve the sale of medium-range missiles to Turkey and a plan to modernize the Turkish air force’s fleet of F-16s.

The leader of the main opposition center-left Syriza party, former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, urged Mitsotakis to withhold renewal of the MDCA pending a promise from Biden not to go forward with overhauling Turkey’s F-16s. EFE ih/dr

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