There is a new U.S. “Marshall Plan” for Greece*
The trip to Washington was short and effective. Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos cannot hide his enthusiasm about the Trump administration. He was in the White House and heard President Donald Trump saying “I love Greeks! Oh, I love the Greeks!” He had thorough talks with his counterpart Defense Secretary Jim Mattis about security issues and upgrading the …. of the debt-ridden Greece. Now the Greek defense minister sees even a new Marshall Plan heading towards Greece. Not in form of the famous Marshall Plan after the WWII, with food packages falling from the sky. The new Marshall plan will be in form of ‘economic aid’ – In 21st-century terms: in form of investment.
In an interview to private ANT1 TV Tuesday morning, Kammenos said there is a new U.S. Marshall Plan for Greece.
“A Greek-American fund is interested in Ethniki Insurance, there is a great interest for the purchase and creation of touristic facilities,” Kammenos said.
Ethniki Asfalistiki, the Hellenic National Insurance, owned by the Greek National Bank, is due to be sold, the tender opens today.
Without specifically mentioning any American interest in the energy sector, Kammenos stressed Greece is becoming an energy hub. He reckoned that the pipeline that will transport natural gas from Israel and Cyprus through Crete and Peloponnse to Europe is in design, as so is the large storage facility in Alexandroupolis that will store gas from the already existing pipelines.
“With the energy issues Greece enters the heart of the world,” Kammenos said reminding of the oil and natural gas resources in the Aegean Sea.
“New energy paths are opening and Greece is in their centre,” Kammenos stressed adding that Greece is in good geostrategic position “as the country strengthens its cooperation with the U.S., Israel, Egypt and Cyprus.
At the same time, there seems to be another sector open for the new Marshall Plan: defense. Modernization and upgrading of the existing arsenal debt-ridden Greece has no money to spend for.
Panos Kammenos is reportedly very optimistic about this issue. Target is not only the modernization of the naval base in Souda Bay on the island of Crete. Defense Secretary Mattis made a special mention to it.
Upgrade is also needed for the Greek F-16 fighter jets as well as for the maritime surveillance aircraft P-3 Orion.
“The process of modernization of at least 90 F-16 fighter jets has already started,” defense issues website militaire.gr noted on Monday and added there has been intention to consider Greece as one of the customers for the F-35 ‘club’.
After Turkey announced its interest on F-35, the purchasing of F-35 became a challenge for Greece, a challenge it cannot afford.
The website notes that for ten years Greece has not done much in upgrading and modernization stressing that “expensive weapon systems were purchased but were left without technical support. Upgrading that should have been done already in 2008 was out of question.” All these problems require quick solutions.
The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was an American initiative to aid Western Europe, in which the United States gave over $12 billion (approximately $120 billion in current dollar value as of June 2016) in economic support to help rebuild Western European economies after the end of World War II.
Under the Marshall Plan Greece received $700,000,000 between 1948 and 1952.
However, the Marshall Plan was not ‘aid’ without ‘exchange’.
“The goals of the United States were to rebuild war-devastated regions, remove trade barriers, modernize industry, make Europe prosperous once more, and prevent the spread of communism. The Marshall Plan required a lessening of interstate barriers, a dropping of many regulations, and encouraged an increase in productivity, labour union membership, as well as the adoption of modern business procedures.”
The issue of a new Marshall Plan was raised in 2012 and 2013 by U.S. economist Joseph Stieglitz and U.S. President Barack Obama, when it became clear that Greece cannot deal with its debt.
I suppose the idea was abandoned when the Americans realized that Greece was a member of a common currency union, the eurozone, and that Germany would raise serious objections to the plans. Berlin wanted to be the great reformer and exploiter of Greece.