Greece is a long-standing NATO ally and European Union member. As a leader in the region, Greece has promoted Balkan stability and economic development, supporting Turkey’s bid for accession to the European Union, and supporting the diversification of Europe’s energy supplies.
The United States and Greece have enjoyed robust defense cooperation, dating from the signing of the first defense cooperation agreement in 1953. Greece provides the United States with access to key military installations in the region, most notably at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay, a combined airfield and seaport facility that is the largest deepwater port in the eastern Mediterranean. Greece contributes over 700 troops to the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) and 135 troops to the NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, as well as 135 troops to three United Nations peacekeeping missions. Greece has been an active participant in NATO’s Ocean Shield counter-piracy operation providing protection for World Food Program chartered and merchant vessels off the coast of Somalia, and routinely contributes to NATO maritime operations. Greece previously led, and it continues to participate in, the European Union’s “Atalanta” counter-piracy missions.