Greek parliament ratifies updated defense cooperation agreement with US amid protests


ATHENS, Jan 31 (NNN-Xinhua) — Greek lawmakers ratified on Thursday an updated agreement with the U.S. on defense cooperation, while thousands of protesters were chanting slogans outside the parliament building opposing it, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

A total of 175 MPs in the 300-member strong assembly voted in favor of the bill on the ratification of the protocol of amendment to the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) between Greece and the US.

The updated agreement was supported by the ruling conservative New Democracy and the center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) opposition party.

The update of the agreement which paves the way for an upgrade of bilateral defense cooperation was signed last autumn in Athens during the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Under the updated agreement there will be increased cooperation at military bases across Greece, where US forces already have a presence, as well as in new facilities.

“This agreement is an update of the agreement which had been first signed in 1990,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis noted, delivering a speech before the vote. It has been updated many times ever since.

“You are rejecting an agreement you had been praising until recently,” Mitsotakis told Alexis Tsipras, leader of main opposition Coalition of Radical Left (SYRIZA).

The negotiation of the latest amendments started under the previous SYRIZA government, but the party on Thursday did not vote in favor of the agreement, arguing that the government should have secured more “tangible support of Greece’s sovereign rights.”

SYRIZA on Thursday repeated a call for suspension of the agreement, saying that in recent months many factors have changed, citing increased tensions in the Mediterranean Sea over Libya and a memorandum of understanding signed between Tripoli and Ankara in November over the establishment of maritime boundaries.

Approximately 7,000 protesters, according to Greek police, demonstrated against the agreement on Syntagma square on Thursday. The protest was organized jointly by leftist parties, students’ associations, and labor unions.

Protesters held banners with slogans such as “NATO and Brussels, killers of nations, down with the new order of imperialists” and “No to the U.S.-Greece agreement for the bases”. — NNN-XINHUA


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