Decision on US bases in Greece must wait until fall elections
At a time when the Reagan administration is seeking military facilities in the Mideast, four existing United States bases in Greece seem in jeopardy. Since 1953, the four bases -- two in Attiki, two in Crete, plus assorted smaller US military installations -- have dominated the strategic area just west of the Middle East (and Suez Canal) and just south of the Black Sea. US eavesdropping stations in northern Turkey route secret traffic through these facilities.
On June 18, negotiations between Athens and Washington over the future of the bases ended because the Greek chamber of deputies, which would have to ratify the new agreement, adjourned. Negotiations are to resume this fall.
But before then, Greek parliamentary elections are to be held. It now appears that the Socialist opposition, which wants the bases removed, may make a strong showing. The current government led by Prime Minister George Rallis, however, was responsible for bringing Greece back into the NATO command structure and is inclined to allow the bases to remain.
But Panhellenic Socialist Party leader Andreas Papandreou says he "would not recognize any obligations derived from negotiations carried out by the present Greek government." Under his leadership, Greece would become militarily independent and there would be "establishment of a timetable for their [US military] withdrawal, and guarantees that no aspect of Greek defense potential would rely on foreign bases."
Just before the talks ended, US negotiators had agreed to three Greek demands: that the bases be used only for NATO purposes; that the US maintain a 7 -to-10 arms aid ratio between Greece and Turkey: and that the US guarantee Greece's "territorial integrity."
Sticking points were Greek demands of military access to all sections of the bases and a US arms package of sophisticated jets and electronic equipment. Foreign Minister Constantine Mitsotakis said both sides were close to agreement on even these points.
According to a high-level Greek official, who asked not to be named, a troubling aspect of the talks was that the far-right and far-left both think the Greek-Turkish rivalry supersedes the West's strategic needs. This nationalism, he said, could trouble regional relationships, especially with Turkey.