NEWS

US letter of support amid tension

VASSILIS NEDOS, STAVROS PAPANTONIOU

TAGS: Turkey, Diplomacy, Politics

As Turkey ratchets up tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece on Tuesday welcomed a letter sent by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis which states Washington’s commitment “to supporting Greece’s prosperity, security and democracy.”

It also describes bilateral ties between the two NATO allies as “extraordinary” and refers to Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations which stipulates the need for peaceful resolution of disputes.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said the letter was the culmination of a series of positive statements from the other side of the Atlantic for Greece.

Meanwhile the arrival of Turkey’s Yavuz drillship in Block 8 of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is being seen in Athens as an indication of Ankara’s utter disregard for any international agreement signed by Nicosia and foreign companies, including French ones, regarding the island’s continental shelf.

Irrespective of the veracity of reports that drilling operations have already begun in Block 8, the reservation of the area until the end of spring by the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) also sends a clear message to France, whose Total company, together with Italy’s Eni, has made concession agreements with Nicosia.

It remains to be seen if Ankara will, as its Energy Minister Fatih Donmez has announced, proceed with another five drilling operations in the island’s EEZ within 2020 and whether this will discourage the French-Italian consortium.

At the same time, Ankara fueled tension with Athens even further at the World Economic Forum at Davos where Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, “Greece is not a player in Libya.”

In an interview with Turkish broadcaster NTV, Cavusoglu said the only reason Athens wanted to participate in the Libya summit in Berlin was to raise the issue of the maritime pact signed between Turkey and the Tripoli-based UN-recognized government.

He said Turkey was not ignoring its neighbor, “but this issue was not on the agenda.”

He also derided the Greek government for hosting eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar in Athens.

“The fact that Greece supports an illegitimate actor over a legitimate government shows that it is on the wrong side,” he said.

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