The U.S.-Greece Bilateral Relationship

Greece is an indispensable ally for the United States, promoting peace, security, and stability in the region. 

From the very beginning, the unique relationship between Greece and the United States was founded on shared democratic values, common economic, political, and security interests. It’s these values that continue to unite us today. 

Since the Greek War of Independence in 1821, Greeks and Americans have stood side-by-side facing the world’s major challenges together. Due to its strategic location at the frontline of Europe’s biggest challenges, Greece continues to be of vital importance to global security, with far-reaching ramifications for the EU, NATO, and the United States.

As Greece emerges from a decade of economic crisis, the words “Greece is back” can be heard everywhere. “Greece is back” should not be limited solely to Greece’s recovery from the worst peacetime economic crisis since the Great Depression; Greece has made an equally impressive and far more unexpected comeback in American strategic thinking, and the Greece-US bilateral relationship is at its highest point since the Truman administration. The passage of the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act (East Med Act) in December and the visit by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Washington, DC underscore Greece’s central role to US policy in the region.

Key Points

A pillar of stability

Greece has established itself as a reliably pro-American state, and thus a “pillar of stability.” The current government has kicked off the next phase of the US-Greece relationship, one where Athens can play the role of America’s leading partner in the region. Greece has proven it is a steadfast ally and partner, and a stabilizing force in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. As a pillar of stability in a volatile region, the stronger Greece is, the stronger and more secure its neighborhood will be. A 2022 meeting between President Joe Biden and PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis reaffirmed the countries’ strongest relationship to date. Both cited a commitment to democratic ideals, energy security, climate change, and bilateral trade as important pillars in protecting global actors from the threat of authoritative states like Russia.

Strategic partnership and Souda Bay

As a NATO ally and an EU member, Greece is a crucial partner for the U.S. and the EU in tackling issues ranging from regional security to energy to migration.

In February 2019 Greece ratified a Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement with the U.S. which provides for increased joint U.S.-Greece and NATO activities at Greek military bases and facilities across the country and infrastructure and other improvements at Souda Bay. The agreement has been described as critical to responding to new security challenges in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. In October 2021 US Secretary of State Anthony Blinkin signed an amendment to the law expanding the Greek-American partnership and strengthening defense cooperation among the two countries. 

Souda Bay serves as the largest and most prominent naval base for the U.S. and NATO in the eastern Mediterranean Sea playing a major role in the fight against terrorism. Increased US presence is accompanied by Greece’s eagerness to show its commitment to NATO and its American counterpart. In 2021 Greece spent a greater share of its GDP on defense than any other NATO member, proving itself as an important strategic partner for US objectives. Important regional security missions in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas simply would not be possible without Greece and Souda Bay.

An energy hub in the Eastern Mediterranean

As an emerging energy hub in Southeastern Europe, Greece is playing a central role in deepening energy security in Europe and helping Europe diversify away from Russian gas. This is illustrated by projects like the TAP pipeline, the creation of an LNG terminal in northern Greece, the Gas Interconnector between Greece and Bulgaria (IGB pipeline), and Greece’s role in the East Med Gas Forum.

The East Med Act also places a major focus on American government support for energy cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean, highlighting the central role Greece is playing in this sector. Increased attention has been paid to Alexandroupolis, a port town on the North Aegean Sea, and its potential to enhance Greece’s role as an integral player in the global demand to reduce dependence on Russian energy and bypass an authoritative Turkey in transatlantic objectives.