The United States House of Representatives on Aug. 1 added an article to the draft of the 2024 defense budget bill to submit a research report for the establishment of new U.S. bases in Greece, especially on the Aegean islands.
With the proposal of New York Rep. Grace Meng, an amendment regarding the U.S. bases in Greece was added to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included the annual defense expenditures.
The report is to include an analysis of the potential for additional bases or expanded U.S. military presence in Greece, specifically on Greek islands.
In the amendment adopted by the House of Representatives, the U.S. defense and foreign ministries were asked to prepare a joint report on defense and security relations between Greece and the U.S. for the relevant committees of Congress within two months after the final defense budget is approved.
Meng thanked “the leadership of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus” for supporting her amendment and said she looks “forward to it becoming law.”
The amendment came as U.S. forces were granted access to five additional military bases in Greece under the expanded defense cooperation agreement signed by the two countries in October of 2021.
Within the scope of the 2021 agreement, Greece allocated the Yanuli barracks in the Greek city of Aleksandrupoli, located 40 kilometers from Türkiye, the Yeorguli barracks near the city of Volos, as well as a shooting range 92 kilometers away from Thessaloniki, to the U.S.
Additionally, the U.S. has a large naval and air base on Crete island, along with deploying helicopters and UAVs at the Stefanovikio Greek airbase near Volos.
On the other hand, Greek media announced the amendment with the headlines such as “American landing on the islands” and “House of Representatives suggests establishing a new base in the Aegean.”
Daily Ta Nea stated that if the proposal is included in the final version of the defense budget, the issue of establishing new U.S. bases in Greece could be discussed in 2026 at the earliest, considering the proposal as a positive development for Athens.
The pro-opposition daily Efsyn reported that in diplomatic circles, it was considered almost impossible for Meng’s proposal to be included in the final version of the NDAA.
Negotiations are underway between the two branches of the U.S. Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate, regarding separate drafts related to the NDAA. The joint bill, which is expected to be finalized by the end of the year, will then be sent to U.S. President Joe Biden for approval.