Defense Secretary James N. Mattis welcomed Greek Defense Minister Panagiotis Kammenos to the Pentagon yesterday.
Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said Mattis reaffirmed the long-standing defense relationship between the U.S. and Greece and thanked Kammenos for his country’s commitment to spend at least 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense well before the 2024 deadline agreed upon at NATO’s 2014 summit in Wales.
After World War II, the United States contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild Greece’s buildings, agriculture and industry as part of the Marshall Plan. Today, about 3 million Americans claim Greek descent. This large, well-organized community cultivates close political and cultural ties with Greece, Pentagon officials said.
During yesterday’s meeting, the two leaders also discussed continuing efforts to combat Russian malign influence in the region, including the recent expulsion of two Russian diplomats from Greece. Combating Russian efforts to undermine critical partnerships remains a key concern for all NATO allies, defense officials said.
Greece and Turkey joined NATO in 1952, at a time when there was fear of communist expansion throughout Europe and extending security to southeastern Europe was strategically important. This enabled NATO to reinforce its southern flank. The U.S. operates an air and sea logistics hub and the largest deep-water port in the Mediterranean at Naval Support Activity Souda Bay on the Greek island of Crete.