Under guise of protecting security, U.S. will control strategic Mediterranean port
The Greek Private Asset Utilization Fund (HRADF) will sell a 67% stake of Alexandroupolis Port in northern Greece near the border with Turkey and Bulgaria. Two American companies are believed to be interested in the deal. Selling a port of strategic importance to US companies, coupled with the availability of the facility for US and NATO troops, is raising many questions in Greece. The Mediterranean country remains only one in two countries surveyed in NATO where the civilian population is not in favor of the alliance and only 36% of Greeks view the US favorably. An announcement issued by HRADF emphasized that the bid consisted of two phases – “in the first phase, interested parties are invited to express their intention to participate before 5:00 pm on October 2, 2020.”
It is worth noting that the signing of a new defense agreement between Athens and Washington in October 2019 gave the Americans freedom to use the country’s seaport infrastructure. In fact, the US announced its interests in the Alexandroupolis Port as far back as September 2019.
Selling ports is extremely risky for reasons related to national security and sovereignty. Privatizing ports means the deregulation of state-owned property and the transfer of all functions and transactions for the private sector instead of state security. What will happen if a foreign investor, such as the US, was involved in the management of ports located in the Aegean Sea, which plays an irreplaceable role in the border and national defense of Greece, especially at a time when Turkey is increasing its war rhetoric against Greece?
The establishment of a U.S.-NATO base at Alexandroupolis Port aims to secure an energy hub and serve as a point to pressurize Russia. In addition to the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria pipeline and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline being in the region of the port, a third pipeline is also being prepared. This would turn Thrace, the region of Alexandroupolis Port, into a true energy hub.
Of course, we must not forget the fact that in addition to the privatization of Alexandroupolis Port, there is a bigger problem with the military bases. The port can serve as a vehicle for imposing U.S.-NATO interests in the region. The creation of such a base, along with the sale of the port to an American company, creates a head-to-head situation with other competitors, such as Russia. The port is strategically located close to the Turkish-controlled Dardanelles that connects the Aegean/Mediterranean Seas with the Black Sea, and therefore Russia.
With the acquisition of this port, U.S.-NATO forces may be in many areas of the Balkans in only a few hours and can significantly hinder Russian trade with the world via the Black Sea by blockading the Dardanelles. Currently, Greece and Turkey are the closest they have been to war since 1974 when the latter invaded northern Cyprus. The Greek government is likely to use the hostilities as a justification for opening a US naval base in Alexandroupolis to supposedly ensure Greece’s security despite opposition from the majority of Greeks.