The United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a bill on June 22 that would "bolster the United States’ defense partnership with Greece," a press release reported.
PASSED ✅ Applaud #SFRC’s passage of the U.S.-Greece Defense & Interparliamentary Partnership Act to support our stalwart ally & foster security & stability in the Eastern Med in the face of unprecedented challenges to global peace & prosperity. https://t.co/UXuqWuqKBx pic.twitter.com/IC8ucfThPt— Senate Foreign Relations Committee (@SFRCdems) June 22, 2021
Titled "U.S.-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act of 2021," the bipartisan document sanctions the transfer of American military technology to Greece for "Greek military modernization."
The bill also aims to "foster increased multilateral engagement among Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the United States," the press release said, while committee chairman Bob Menendez added that the "strengthens enduring ties with [the U.S.'] instrumental Hellenic partners."
One of the authors of the bill, Senator Marco Rubio dubbed Greece, Cyprus and Israel "most important Eastern Mediterranean partners" of the US.
One of the key elements of Greece's "military modernization" will be "Greece’s transition away from Russian-produced military equipment" via assistance through the European Recapitalization Incentive Program (ERIP), the legislation said.
The bill also allocates an annual $1.8 million to the Greek government for International Military Education and Training (IMET) and encourages the US Senate to "provide direct loans to Greece for the procurement of defense articles, defense services, and design and construction services."
Lastly, the bill "authorizes expedited delivery of any future F-35 aircraft ordered by Greece."
The bill's passage follows tensions between Ankara and Athens over the former's drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, as tensions flared between Turkey and EU members Greece and Cyprus over energy resources and jurisdiction in the region in August, when both Turkish and Greek navy frigates escorted exploration vessels.
EU leaders in March made good on a 2016 promise to deepen trade ties with Turkey, but also warned Ankara to expect sanctions if it restarts energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. read more
Delivery from a natural gas reserve in the Black Sea, Turkey's largest historical discovery, is expected to begin in 2023.
If the gas can be commercially extracted, the discovery could transform Turkey's dependence on Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan for energy imports.