US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s testimony to the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday contained indications of further US involvement in the Eastern Mediterranean region, as well as direct references to Turkish provocations against Greece.
“We have looked with real concern over the last year and of course more recently, at some of the actions taken in the Eastern Mediterranean particularly by Turkey in terms of various claims, and it is very important that the US stands up and engages in advancing stability,” he said, adding that the US insists that any disputes that arise will be resolved peacefully and diplomatically, “not militarily, not through provocative actions.”
Washington, he added, has “called out actions including by Turkey that violate international law or commitments as NATO ally and that includes provocative actions against Greece like violations of airspace.” He also referred to Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 weapons system.
Blinken’s reference to violations of Greek airspace is seen as a very clear message to Ankara, as it is an issue that Washington usually avoids raising, mainly because of Turkey’s objections regarding the scope of Greek airspace. His message is also a reflection of the deeply problematic US-Turkish relations.
What’s more, his mention in the same breath of the S-400 case signifies that Ankara’s insistence on this issue is only prolonging and worsening frictions with Washington.
Blinken, however, did note that the US agreed with Turkey’s efforts to reduce tensions, mainly through cooperation with the European Union. He said this was one of the positive developments that has taken place in recent weeks.
On the Cyprus issue, he stressed Washington’s firm position to support a settlement based on the United Nations framework and to reject a two-state solution.