In yet another sign of deteriorating relations between Ankara and the West, the US has warned Turkey that it will not remain silent if it harasses drillships within Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Speaking at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell said the US had made its stance on the matter “clear” to Turkey and berated Ankara’s behavior toward its neighbors.
“The US cannot be silent when Turkey’s leaders curb democratic freedoms and the rule of law, harangue Israel, and wield rhetoric or pursue policies that unnerve Ankara’s neighbors and [America’s] close friends and allies.” Cyprus, he said, is “a vulnerable state that needs greater Western attention while continuing the process toward a bizonal, bicommunal federation.” He added that energy resources in the region are “a major plank of European energy diversification as Europe’s traditional northern fields wind down.”
He also warned that if Turkey proceeds with the purchase of Russian S-400s, its participation in programs with the US, including those regarding F-35 fighter planes, will be impacted.
As for Greece, he said the US is cultivating it as “an anchor of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Balkans.”
His remarks came in the wake of an escalation of incendiary rhetoric used by Ankara against Greece and the West, just before Turkish elections.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos briefed his NATO counterparts on Wednesday on the threat issued by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag that Turkey will find and return the eight army officers that were released from pre-trial detention by a Greek court.
Kammenos said the comments were tantamount to saying that Turkey will launch a military campaign against a NATO ally to “abduct” the Turkish servicemen.