The United States is trying to overcome Turkey’s objections to NATO patrols in the southern Aegean, sources have told Kathimerini, adding that Washington would like to contribute air and sea forces to the ongoing mission.
Ankara is concerned that the operation plan of a NATO mission near the Dodecanese islands off Turkey’s southeastern coast, would implicitly recognize the existing border status and undermine its territorial claims in the area.
Analysts have voiced concerns that the absence of NATO patrols in the area could have a waterbed effect, as migration flows would be diverted from islands in the central and northern Aegean to the south.
According to sources, the US permanent representative to NATO, Ambassador Douglas Lute, on Tuesday met with his Greek counterpart, Michael-Christos Diamessis, to inform him that US President Barack Obama is trying to talk Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan into green-lighting a transatlantic mission in the southern Aegean.
Lute also informed Diamessis that the US is considering a more direct involvement in the operation by contributing at least one boat, an unidentified number of coast guard teams, and observation balloons. Intelligence derived from aerial monitoring of the Turkish coastline would be passed on to Greece, Turkey and the EU border agency Frontex.