The text of the new U.S.-Greek defense and economic cooperation agreement, released in Athens Friday, did not match claims by Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou that it provides for the dismantling of the U.S. bases in Greece after five years.
According to the English text, either party may submit written notice of its desire to terminate the five-year agreement five months before the expiration. In the absence of such notice, the agreement, which covers four major U.S. bases, will be extended.
When the agreement was initialed July 14, Papandreou said it constituted "a time plan for the removal of the bases, which was our goal in the negotiations. After the end of the five-year period the dismantling of the bases starts." Papandreou, a Socialist, was elected in 1981 after running on a platform that pledged to close the U.S. bases.
Confusion remained, however, after it was noted that the Greek wording could be interpreted to mean that notice must be submitted by both parties. The Greek text was arrived at after weeks of linguistic fencing between Athens and Washington. The agreement, concluded seven weeks ago, was formally signed here Thursday.
[In Salonika Sunday, Papandreou predicted that the U.S. military bases will be closed after the agreement expires, The Associated Press reported. "The political will exists to terminate the presence of the bases in Greece after five years," he said.]
Papandreou now will have to defend the agreement during the ratification debate in the Greek parliament. Opposition is expected only from the Communists, who hold 13 of 300 seats.
One diplomatic point Athens scored that it is likely to emphasize in the debate is the stipulation of U.S. backing for maintaining the balance of military power in the Aegean between Greece and Turkey, its rival and NATO neighbor. Greece says, and Turkey denies, that Turkey represents an expansionist threat.
Although the principle of the maintenance of a military balance in the region has been built into U.S. foreign assistance legislation since 1978, its reiteration in a bilateral defense agreement scores a political point for Papandreou.
Another Greek demand was that Washington commit itself to the 7-to-10 ratio for military aid to Greece and Turkey that the United States has observed since the late 1970s. This demand was rejected.
Having clinched the bases agreement, the Greek government is now expected to go ahead with a long-planned purchase of U.S.-made F16 fighter planes. The Reagan administration has requested $500 million in military aid for Greece this fiscal year, which is expected to go toward paying for the new aircraft.
The purchase of 160 new F16s by Turkey was announced last week, as part of an effort to upgrade its national Air Force and catch up with what defense experts say is Greek air superiority in the Aegean.