Following last week’s visit to the US by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Washington and Athens have agreed to establish an open line of communication to address any possible moves by Turkey that could create upheaval in the region.
During Mitsotakis’ two days of talks in Washington he set out, to both President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Greece’s “red lines” as well at the risks posed by the increasingly aggressive tactics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been threatening to enforce Ankara’s deal with Libya’s Tripoli-based government delineating maritime zones that challenge Greek sovereignty.
This hotline will most likely be overseen by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer, who is expected to visit both Athens and Ankara in due course.
Meanwhile, amid increasing upheaval in the region, including the fresh crisis with Iran, Washington is keen to upgrade its military presence at Souda Bay on Crete with the permanent installation there of a nuclear-powered submarine, Kathimerini understands.
Talks in Washington also touched on further Greek defense procurements, beyond the F-35 fighter jet program. It appears that Greece is planning to split its defense needs, with the air force aspect to be covered by the US and naval procurements from France and other European countries.
Mitsotakis’ meeting with Trump was also attended by Vice President Mike Pence and Pompeo who, Kathimerini understands, helped the president understand the implications for stability in the region in the event of a possible escalation of tensions by Turkey.
Mitsotakis, for his part, stressed that any further questioning of Greece’s sovereign rights by Turkey, and specifically involving the Greek islands, will not go unanswered by Athens. According to sources, Mitsotakis suggested that Trump could make use of his good personal relationship with Erdogan to underline the possible consequences of such a development.
It appears that this message sparked the first intervention by Pompeo, according to which the US will undertake an initiative to de-escalate tensions between Greece and Turkey which have spiked following Ankara’s signing of the controversial maritime borders agreement with the Libyan government in Tripoli.