The Issue of Transferring the US Base from Turkey to Greece Intensified

4 m.   |  2020-10-02

The White House raised the issue of transferring the US military resources from Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base to Greece as a result of the escalation of USA-Turkey relations. The issue was conditioned by two factors:

a/ Turkey’s acquisition of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems [1]

b/ Turkey’s aggression against Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean 

Recently, US officials and analysts have begun to discuss the issue of transferring the US military resources from Incirlik Air Base to Greece, related with Erdogan’s concerning foreign policy [2].

Early in September 2020, Senator Ron Johnson, who chairs the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee for Europe stated, that the US officials are considering exchanging its facilities at Incirlik Air Force base in Turkey with an extension of the US Naval base in Crete [3]. “We don't know what's gonna happen to Incirlik, we hope for the best, but we have to plan for the worst” [4].

The experts believe that the visit of the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Greece on September 28, 2020 can give a new and more tangible course to the process.

Pompeo wrote about his visit to Greece on his Twitter page: “Thrilled to be back in Greece, a vital U.S. partner with whom we share a common strategic vision”[5].

Pompeo arrives in Greece


On September 28, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias accepted Pompeo in Thessaloniki. Based on Pompeo’s Twitter post, they discussed issues related to the enduring strength of the U.S.-Greece relationship, the Western Balkans, and de-escalation of tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean [6].


Pompeo-Dendias meeting

On September 29, Pompeo met with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the island of Crete. The US Secretary of State noted in his Twitter post: “We had a constructive conversation on regional political, economic, and energy cooperation. The U.S. encourages a return to dialogue and a peaceful resolution of any disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean” [7].

Mitsotakis in his turn stated, that Turkey is violating international law with its strategy related to the territorial waters and resources of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean, which are under the control of Greece and other countries. “This is a very sensitive area that has been recently tried by Turkey’s aggressiveness with provocative actions” [8].

In Crete, it was envisaged the Secretary of State’s visit to Naval Support Activity Souda Bay to underscore the strong U.S. security partnership with NATO Ally Greece [9].

It should be noted that the meeting between Pompeo and Mitsotakis on the island of Crete was symbolic: according to the assessments of experts, this will give a new impetus to the possible deployment of the US military capabilities from Incirlik Air Base to Crete.

During the aggression of Azerbaijan against Artsakh, the issue of transferring mercenaries and terrorists from Turkey to Azerbaijan to take part in the hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict became especially relevant in the Western press and expert assessments. This perhaps speaks about strengthening the reliability of that information, including in West. It should be noted that on September 30, the Russian Foreign Ministry already issued an official statement confirming this information [10].

Rumors began to be spread that tensions between the USA and Turkey may further deepen over Turkey’s involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and its direct involvement in hostilities. In that context, it was interesting that few days after Pompeo-Dendias meeting, it became known about the Greek Foreign Minister N. Dendias’ intention of the upcoming visit to Armenia.