Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez’s visit to Greece

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Chairman of the United States (US) Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez, has made a private visit to Greece on August, 17, 2022. Visit of the Senator Menendez is very important both in terms of the length of this trip and the contacts he has made.

Menendez is known as a prominent person in the US Senate with the identity of a supporter of Greece. The fact that Menendez’s visit to Greece lasted about two weeks shows the importance he attaches to the US-Greece relations.

In addition to being a US Senator, Menendez is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This identity is another point that increases the importance of his visit to Greece. Because this committee has a critical importance in shaping US foreign policy. The following statements on the official website of the US Senate are important in terms of revealing the function of the committee in foreign policy: [1]

“Throughout its history, the committee has been instrumental in developing and influencing United States foreign policy, at different times supporting and opposing the policies of presidents and secretaries of state.”

The US Senator started his visit from the Greek port of Alexandroupolis.[2] This is also a remarkable development. Because the Port of Alexandroupolis, where the US has spent significant military expenditures in recent years, is expected to become operational in the coming weeks.[3] Therefore, it is not coincidence that Menendez visited Alexandroupolis as part of his visit to Greece. This port is considered extremely critical in the defense of US interests at the regional level. In this respect, Menendez’s visit to Alexandroupolis is a conscious choice and is intended to sending a message to various countries.

Considering the increasing tension in relations between Türkiye and Greece in the recent period, Menendez’s visit can be interpreted as a concrete indication that the US is siding with Athens against Ankara.

Also thanks to the  Port of Alexandroupolis, the US is both surrounding Russia and trying to prevent China, which the latter has invested heavily in the Port of Piraeus, by piling up in Greece, which is an important route within the framework of China’s Belt-Road Project.[4] Therefore, Menendez wanted to send  message to Beijing with the visit.

After Alexandroupolis, the US Senator went to Athens, the capital of Greece, where he continued his contacts. Within this scope, he made statements to the Greek press and met with important representatives of the Greek Government.

In an interview with the Greek newspaper Kathimerini on August 21, 2022, Menendez called for greater investment in defense and security, emerging technologies, the digital economy and maritime ındustry with the aim of deepening what he described as multidimensional, Greece-US relations. Apart from this, he drew attention to the strategic location of the Alexandroupolis Port that he visited and made it clear that he would not support the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye.[5]

In recent months, Greek Prime Minister Kriakos Mitsotakis addressed the US Congress as part of his visit to the US and called for the risk of instability on the south-east wing of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) not to be ignored while making decisions on the supply of military equipment in the region.[6]  In fact, Mitsotakis tried to imply that they expect the US to reject Ankara’s F-16 request. In this context, the emphasis on the F-16 by Senator Menendez, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, can be interpreted as a sign that the messages given by Mitsotakis during his visit to the US are understood by Washington.

Menendez met with Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis on August, 26 2022. On the one hand, the two focused on the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean; on the other hand, focused on cooperation in the fields of energy and economy. In the meeting, Mitsotakis stated that relations between the two countries are at their highest point. Menendez, on the other hand, praised Greece’s support for the Ukraine occupied by Russia. In addition, he emphasized the Port of Alexandroupolis, stating that he believed it will be a geostrategic center for “Greece, the region and the alliance” (NATO).[7] As can be seen, since the starting of Menendez’s visit to Greece, attention has been drawn to the base acquired by the US in the Port of Alexandroupolis.

In his speech here, Menendez, who suggested that Türkiye represents the most “persistent threat” in the Eastern Mediterranean, described Türkiye as one of the major challenges the  global community is confronting, as well as China, Russia and climate change.

Another place where Menendez had contacts was the University of Athens. The US Senator was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by University of Athens.[8] In his speech here, Menendez, who suggested that Türkiye represents the most “persistent threat” in the Eastern Mediterranean,[9] described Türkiye as one of the major challenges the  global community is confronting, as well as China, Russia and climate change.[10] As can be understood from the words of the US Senator, Türkiye formed the focal point of his visit to Greece. In other words, Menendez decisively demonstrated the support of the US for Greece in an environment where tensions between Ankara and Athens are rising. In other words, Menendez has strongly demonstrated the US support for Greece in an environment where the tension between Ankara and Athens are rising.

Consequently, Menendez’s visit was fruitful in terms of improving the relations between the US and Greece. It is possible to say that Menendez’s visit was shaped by a content centered on the Alexandroupolis base. One of the most important details of the visit is the understanding that the role of the base in Alexandroupolis will gradually increase in the relations between the two countries. Thus, it has been confirmed that relations between Athens and Washington are at a quite high level.

It can be said that Menendez wanted to send a message to the three countries with his visit to Greece. The first of these is Türkiye. Because Türkiye formed an important part of the statements made by Menendez in Greece and he wanted to send a message that he was on the side of Athens against Ankara. The second message is directed at Russia. Due to the invasion operation launched by Russia in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the ropes on the Moscow-Washington line have reached the breaking point. Considering the role of the base located in Alexandroupolis in surrounding Russia, it would not be wrong to say that Menendez’s visit contains a message aimed at Russia. The third message is given to the China. Tensions between Beijing and Washington have risen to the highest level in recent years following visit of the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. The US is also threatening China, which the latter has invested in the Port of Piraeus in the region thanks to the Alexandroupolis Base. Therefore, considering the timing of Menendez’s visit, it can be said that another country he wanted to send a message to is China.

[1] “Committee History&Rules”, United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, , (Date of Accession: 26.08.2022).

[2] “Menendez makes private trip to Greece”, Ekathimerini,, (Date of Accession: 26.08.2022).

[3] “ABD’nin Dedeağaç Üssü Faaliyete Geçiyor”, CNN TÜRK,, (Date of Accession: 26.08.2022).

[4] Cemal Ege Özkan, “Yunanistan ve Çin Dışişleri Bakanları’nın ASEAN Toplantısı Çerçevesinde Görüşmeleri”, ANKASAM,, (Date of Accession: 26.08.2022).

[5] Tom Ellis, “Turkey Must Behave as A NATO Ally”, Ekathimerini, (Date of Accession: 26.08.2022).

[6] Eleonora Vasques, “Greek PM Warns Washington to be Careful with Supply of Military Equipment”, Euractiv,, (Date of Accession: 27.08.2022).

[7] “PM Meets Menendez and Discuss US-Greek Relations”, Ekathimerini, (Date of Accession: 27.08.2022).

[8] “Menendez Awarded Honorary Doctorate by University of Athens”, Ekathimerini,, (Date of Accession: 27.08.2022).

[9] “US Senator Menendez takes swipe at Turkey over East Med Aggression”, Ekathimerini,, (Date of Accession: 27.08.2022).

[10] Paula Tsoni, “Turkey a Persistent Threat in Eastern Mediterranean, Menendez Tells Athens Event”, Greek Reporter,, (Date of Accession: 27.08.2022).

Cemal Ege ÖZKAN
Cemal Ege Özkan, 2019 yılında Ankara Üniversitesi Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi Tarih Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2022 senesinde aynı üniversitenin Türk İnkılap Tarihi Enstitüsü Atatürk İlkeleri ve İnkılap Tarihi Anabilim Dalı’nda hazırladığı “Türk Siyasi Hayatında Selim Rauf Sarper ve Faaliyetleri” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Hâlihazırda aynı enstitüde doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. 2020-2021 yılları arasında Türk Tarih Kurumu Yüksek Lisans Bursiyeri olan Özkan, iyi derecede İngilizce bilmektedir.