Friday, 15 October 2021

US to create four new military bases in Greece

Greece and the US on October 14 signed a new Mutual Defence Co-operation Agreement securing four new US military bases on Greek soil. One will be in the Evros border region near Turkey and one on the Aegean islands. 

In an interview with To Vima on October 10, Greek foreign minister Nikos Dendias did not name the island, but said the base would be positioned so as to enable Greek-US operations in the east Mediterranean. 

Greece has been negotiating this package since the last MDCA in 2019 brought $50 mn in new investments to the existing US base in Souda Bay, Crete and established a US logistics base in Alexandroupoli for the resupply of NATO allies in the Balkans bypassing the Bosphorus.

The four new bases will be commonly used between the US and Greek militaries, meaning that the US will invest in existing Greek military facilities or establish new ones both countries will use. It is for this reason that the new MDCA will be renewable in 5 years instead of annually, enabling Congress to release funds.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Afghan MPs, in exile, pledge to work for women's rights

This article was published by Al Jazeera.

Nazira Yousofi Bek

ATHENS, Greece - When Taliban militiamen ransacked Shagufa Noorzai’s home, she wan’t there. The parliament member from Helmand province had gone into hiding as the hardline Islamic group proclaimed a theocracy in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US and European troops last August. 

“I was in a washroom without a window for 15 days,” she says. “Even my family didn’t know where I was… The Taliban told my father, ‘tell her to come out of hiding and we will work with her’.”

“The [Taliban] are going to kill people who were working in government, and they will do it quietly,” says Homa Ahmadi, who served three terms as an MP for Logar province. “They break into people’s homes to show people that they have no rights, and to create fear that they can take whatever they want.” 

Greece ratifies landmark intra-NATO defence pact with France

This article was published by Al Jazeera.

Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis defeiding the pact in parliament on October 7

Greece on Thursday ratified a mutual defence pact with France, the first between two NATO members. 

The two countries are already bound to help each other from an attack originating outside the alliance. The Strategic Partnership on Defence and Security for the first time binds two NATO members to help each other from an attack originating inside the alliance. 

Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hailed the agreement as the cornerstone of an independent European defence policy. “The defence of European interests in the Mediterranean now acquires new substance,” Mitsotakis told parliament. 

“If attacked, our country will have at its side the most powerful military on the continent, the sole European nuclear power,” he said. 

Greece: After fires, experts sound alarm over grim climate future

This article was published by Al Jazeera.

ATHENS, Greece – Climate experts say last month’s wildfires that razed 100,000 hectares of Greek forest are only a small sampling of the environmental and economic devastation Greece will face due to a warming planet this century. 

The fires came in the wake of a heatwave, repeating a pattern seen in two other nationwide conflagrations in 2007 and 1987; and the phenomenon is worsening, geophysicist Christos Zerefos tells Al Jazeera. 

“This heatwave was the longest that ever struck our country,” he says. “In 1987 it lasted five days. In 2007 it was six days. And now 11 days. It keeps on increasing.” 

Greece, France tout European defence autonomy with warships deal

 This article was published by Al Jazeera

ATHENS, Greece – Greece announced on September 28 a deal to buy between six and eight French-built warships accompanied by a strategic defence partnership with France. 

“Greece and France are taking a first step today towards European defence autonomy,” said Greek premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis, standing next to France’s president Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace. “We have a common vision of an autonomous response capability to the challenges Europe faces.” 

The deal, billed at $5bn, will provide Greece with three state-of-the-art Belharra frigates and three Gowind corvettes, with an option for one more of each. According to local reports the ships would be delivered by 2026, with the first frigate arriving as early as spring 2024. 

Monday, 11 October 2021

New Aegean camp pushes refugees out of sight

This article was published by Al Jazeera.

SAMOS, Greece – Workers are still laying down asphalt in the high-security end of the camp where deportees will be held, but the overall shape of Samos’ new, 15 hectare refugee reception centre is clear. 

A large, central area contains neighbourhoods of colour-coded mobile housing units for Arab speakers (green), Afghans (blue) and people of African origin (red). Between them are shared play areas for football, basketball and volleyball. A purple area is set aside for Covid-19 quarantine. A separate section of the camp will process new arrivals. 

Some of the 350 asylum-seekers bussed here on September 20-21 were grateful to be moved from the old camp in Samos’ main town of Vathy, which will be bulldozed. Built for 700 people, it had ended up housing 9,000. People arriving from Turkey, only 1.5km away across the Aegean Sea, had built a shanty town of tarpaulin huts nailed onto frames of salvaged lumber.