Athens tries to feel out Trump

Athens tries to feel out Trump

As Donald Trump sets to assume the US presidency on January 20, Athens is turning its focus to the day after and on the stance Washington may adopt with regard to Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus dispute and to International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) role in the country’s bailout program.

With Washington keeping a somewhat low profile in recent weeks over regional developments, the Greek government is eager to come to grips with the so-called Trump doctrine, which, reportedly, remains a mystery to Athens.

Indeed in his recent trip to New York, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias sought to sound out American foreign policy in the post-Obama era and held talks at Trump Tower with incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on January 6.

According to sources, Flynn showed great interest in Greece’s perspective with regard to the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Contrary to what Trump said throughout the US election campaign about the need for Washington to shift its focus back on the US, Kotzias left New York with the impression that it is keen to deepen its involvement in geopolitical developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean.

Kathimerini understands that Flynn showed a keen interest in Greece’s aim to strengthen partnerships with Israel, Cyprus, Egypt and Lebanon, as well as Kotzias’s ambition to form a security organization in the Eastern Mediterranean, which he mentioned at a security conference held in Rhodes last September.

The meeting in New York also highlighted the Trump administration’s intention to elevate Egypt into a pillar of regional stability.

However, Trump’s pro-Egyptian stance and his incoming administration’s apparent grasp of Greek positions doesn’t necessarily imply a negative stance toward Turkey.

Indeed, Flynn came out in favor of the extradition of Turkish self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey for his alleged role in the botched coup attempt in the neighboring country in the summer. On the other hand though, Flynn supports Kurdish autonomy in Syria and Iraq, which Turkey vehemently opposes.

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