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Greece plans to create second military base in Crete

September 30, 2020 at 9:50 am

Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos takes questions from reporters on March 1, 2020 in Kastanies, Turkey [Byron Smith/Getty Images]

Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos announced on Monday that his country is planning to build a second military base in Crete, Greek mass media reported.

“This is in our plan, both because it is dictated by circumstances and also because our country must have a presence in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Panagiotopoulos told parliament.

“For this to happen, the Crete Naval Base needs to be upgraded and strengthened,” he added, pointing out to amendments to the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement between Athens and the US, which is expected to happen in the coming days.

Panagiotopoulos said the new base would be part of the government’s plan for enhancing the capabilities of the armed forces.

Turkey has previously condemned Greece for militarising the island of Chios in violation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.

Tensions between the neighbours have risen in recent months over claims to waters separating them which are believed to contain large stores of natural gas.

Greece, with France’s support, has disputed Turkey’s energy exploration, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

READ: Turkey issues warning over Greece militarisation of demilitarised island

Turkey, the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean, has sent drill ships with a military escort to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have rights in the region.

Last week, the countries agreed to hold talks in an effort to calm the situation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday that America strongly encourages the de-escalation of the ongoing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“We strongly support dialogue between NATO allies Greece and Turkey and encourage them to resume discussion of these issues as soon as possible,” he said after visiting the NATO base of Souda Bay in Crete.