Defence news Europe

The United States in control of the Greek port

The port of Alexandroupolis in northeastern Greece has gained strategic importance as the United States strengthens military ties with a South European NATO ally

This has hurt US relations with Turkey as Western leaders increasingly distrust authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Currently, American companies are showing the keenest interest in privatising this sea harbour in Greece.

Alexandroupolis is an important transhipment point for NATO military supplies to Ukraine. It is a strategic location for diversifying energy supplies to European markets. It is located in the country’s extreme northeast, 30 kilometres west of the Turkish border and 50 kilometres south of Bulgaria.

Over the past three years, the US and Greece have signed agreements to strengthen their defence cooperation. It guarantee “unrestricted American access” to a number of Greek military bases. Since that collaboration began, the port has experienced unusually high traffic in military vessels. It is so intense that when 1,500 US Marines from the USS Arlington landed on shore in May, the city’s 57,000 residents faced shortages of certain foodstuffs, such as eggs and tobacco.

“The port can accommodate ships up to 650 feet (200 m) in length. Its proximity to the newly improved road network and connection to the railways make it one of the most important ports in Greece. The US asked Greece to include Alexandroupolis in the list of areas where the Americans will be present. The port allows them to easily transfer forces and equipment to Eastern Europe.”

Liutenant General of the Reserve Ilias Leontaris

The Americans made certain improvements to the port, aimed at facilitating the loading and unloading of ships. In 2021 alone, the US military moved 3,100 containers through it, according to official sources cited by The New York Times. These sources did not specify the nature of the shipments, but assured that they were all destined for US bases in Europe.

This year, more than 2,400 containers passed through the port until July. According to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, protected Bushmaster mobile vehicles sent by Australia to Ukraine also passed through Alexandroupolis.

The deployment of US troops in Alexandroupolis did not go unnoticed by Russia. Back in December 2021, two and a half months before the start of a special military operation in Ukraine, Moscow accused Washington of sending weapons to Kyiv through a Greek port.

“Alexandroupolis is a gateway to the Balkans and a corridor to Ukraine. Since Turkey has become a less reliable ally, it is necessary to have an alternative route that can be activated”

Harry Theoharis – a former Greek Minister and MP from the right-wing New Democracy party

Forced Privatisation

Thus, the article emphasises that the port of Alexandroupolis has become a coveted geopolitical object now that its management is offered to the highest bidder.

In return for the successive bailout packages the EU has given Greece over the past decade, Brussels has forced Athens to privatize numerous state assets. Including the management of its ports. By the deadline last Thursday, September 22, Greece received two binding bids for a majority stake in the port of Alexandroupolis. One is owned by Quintana, a US company with interests in the energy sector. The other is owned by International Port Investments Alexandroupolis.It is a joint venture led by Greek construction company GEK Terna with US investment fund Black Summit. Two other contenders were with Russian connections. One belonging to Ivan Savvidisi. The other to the Cupeluso family, who work with the Russian energy company Gazprom.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on November 11, 2021 that the creation of a large American military base in the Greek port city of Alexandroupolis suggests that Greece itself has become a kind of US outpost.

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