Release
Immediate Release

Readout of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III's Phone Call With Greek Minister of National Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos

April 1, 2021

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke by phone today with Greek Minister of Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos to reaffirm the strong and deepening security partnership between the United States and Greece. The Secretary also offered congratulations to the Minister on the Bicentennial of Greece’s Independence celebrated on March 25. 

Secretary Austin thanked Minister Panagiotopoulos for hosting U.S. forces at Souda Bay in Crete and expressed appreciation for Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis’s visit to the USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier on March 23.  He highlighted our strong bilateral defense cooperation, marked by an expansion of the presence of the United States in Greece during the past year, with the homeporting of the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams expeditionary mobile base at Souda Bay.  Secretary Austin noted that our deepening relationship is a dividend of the 2019 update of the U.S.-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement.

The two leaders also discussed the positive diplomatic developments and efforts to reduce all tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, where the Secretary welcomed ongoing exploratory talks between NATO Allies Greece and Turkey and the commitment of both governments to this process.  The leaders committed to being vigilant regarding threats to stability in NATO's Southern Flank, including from Russian malign influence.  

Secretary Austin noted Greece’s consistently exceeding NATO defense spending goals, which is a vital investment to maintain a strong Alliance.  He mentioned the long-standing strategic relationship between our two militaries afforded by Greek investments in U.S. defense systems and noted the Hellenic Navy’s Frigate Modernization Program would be a generational opportunity to expand our naval partnership.