Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos met with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the Pentagon on Saturday during a short visit in the US. The two ministers discussed security and defense issues of mutual concern, a variety of topics, including trans-Mediterranean migration; terrorism; and instability in the Balkans, Northern Africa and the Middle East. Mattis thanked Greece for being one of five NATO allies that invests two percent of its gross domestic product on defense.
The defense secretary also expressed his appreciation to Kammenos for hosting U.S. forces at Souda Bay, Crete — the largest deep water port in the Mediterranean.
He also noted Greece’s participation in NATO’s Aegean Activity and Kosovo Force and Greece’s strategic support in the counter-terrorism and extremism fight.
“You know people say we can’t stop wars, we can’t stop fighting in this world, but we proved we can, in Kosovo — a reminder that when the international community doesn’t turn its back on a problem, we can stop it,” Mattis said, said according to a statement issued by the US defense department.
“We can maintain stability, but it does take effort, and your continued effort there has paid off for all of Europe,” the defense secretary added.
In their meeting, Mattis and Kammenos agreed that security along NATO’s southern flank is of great importance to the entire alliance, the captain said.
“We do see challenges to NATO and from our perspective, Russia and what they have done is something we have to confront. But there is a clear and present danger on the southern flank, which puts Greece as a front line nation in dealing with terrorism,” Mattis said in the briefing. “… We’ve got to stick together.”
Apart from the good cooperation between the two countries, the leader of Independent Greeks and Tsipras’ junior coalition partner Kammenos was obviously impressed by the nation concept of the Trump administration.
“A new day starts for the Greek-US relations in the defense sector” Kammenos said adding: “The previous government, while the president himself had helped with the concept of globalization, the new Trump administration understands the particular role of the nation – state, as well as the particularity the states have with history and the special relations specificity of Member with history and special relationship to develop cooperation.”
Turkey could not but be included in the agenda of the two ministers. Kammenos said that they both agreed that there should be no new fronts in the area and that calmness and consent should prevail.
“There must be consent that no issues arise there where there is none,” the Greek defense minister said with clear reference to Turkey’s provocations in the Aegean Sea.
“With the presence of SNMG2 [NATO naval force] and the US forces, they now know the challenging behavior of the Turkish side,” he added.
Panos Kammenos said that the US Defense Secretary congratulated Greece for sticking to the 2% of budget for NATO spending.
“I told him that we do everything we can for this, but we have a lot of pressure from the part of creditors and finance ministers. This is something where the government should take a loot at,” the Greek defense minister said.
Kammenos invited Mattis to pay a visit to Greece, the defense secretary accepted the invitation of the Defense minister.
The defense secretary congratulated the minister and the people of Greece on the 196th anniversary of their independence, Davis said. The two leaders look forward to continued future engagement, he added.
PANX ROMANA “Pax Americana”