Washington and Athens have dramatically expanded their bilateral military cooperation late last year, when the US took advantage of Greece’s maritime dispute with Turkey over gas drilling rights in the Mediterranean.
The US gained access to 4 additional Greek bases, and the two countries penned a major $9.4 billion naval equipment deal in December.
Trade unions in the Greek city of Thessaloniki united in support of employees of private railway company TrainOSE after management attempted to clamp down on workers who refused to take part in the transfer of US and NATO military equipment from Alexandropoulos to Eastern Europe, the news portal of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) has announced.
TrainOSE reportedly threatened workers from the Thessaloniki Electric Locomotive Department, who refused to travel to Alexandropoulos to provide technical servicing of trains involved in transporting NATO military out of the port city, with punitive action, pointing to their obligations under signed contracts.
This prompted Thessaloniki’s trade unions to adopt a resolution demanding Greek railway infrastructure not to be used to transport military equipment, and ordering TrainOSE to stop its efforts to intimidate employees.
“We demand that our country’s railway rolling stock not be used to transfer the US and NATO arsenal to neighbouring countries. We condemn employers’ threats against TrainOSE employees who have refused to provide technical maintenance for trains which are currently transporting NATO tanks from the Alexandropoulos port. Employers’ statements to the effect that ‘what do you care what the trains carry, it’s your job and you are obliged to go’ are a joke,” the resolution said.
“We, the railway workers, work to provide affordable and quality transportation to the people and for the transport of goods which can be used to meet their needs, not to become part of the country’s involvement in plans which are dangerous for the people, by transporting NATO material to areas near Ukraine. We will not be accomplices in the passage of the war machine through the territory of our country,” the statement added.
A dozen trade unions, including workers of the chemical industry of Northern Greece, construction, telecoms, food industry, hotels, catering establishments, local authorities and municipal enterprises backed the resolution.
According to Alexandropoulos port director Konstantinos Hadzimihail, three trains’ worth of NATO equipment have been sent to Poland and Romania through the port to date. At least three NATO ships have entered the port over the past month, including the US-flagged Liberty Passion, and the Hartland Point, a British ro-ro cargo vessel, and the US Liberty King, which is continuing to be unloaded.
The KKE has been highly active in opposing Athens’ involvement in the crisis between NATO and Russia over Ukraine.
On Tuesday, KKE activists in the region of Thrace threw water balloons filled with red paint at US armour being transported on railway cars.
The party has also organised a series of protests in Athens and other major cities. On Friday evening, the KKE held a rally on Syntagma Square, next to the country’s parliament building. Party leader Dimitris Koutsoumpas told the crowd that the KKE is fighting to close all NATO and US bases in Greece and is opposed to the deployment of a single Greek soldier or officer abroad.
The US and its NATO allies have dramatically ramped up arms deliveries to Ukraine in recent weeks. On Friday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the US would provide $300 million more in weapons, including laser-guided missile systems, drones, armoured vehicles, night vision and thermal imaging devices, satellite imagery and communications equipment, machine guns and medical supplies. The Biden administration has allocated over $2.3 billion in military “aid” to Ukraine over the past year, on top of over $1.5 billion sent by his predecessor Donald Trump. Washington’s European allies committed an additional billion euros (about $1.1 billion US) to Kiev since February.