Turkey’s actions ‘provocative, unhelpful, and raise tensions in the region,’ says senior State Department official

Turkey’s actions ‘provocative, unhelpful, and raise tensions in the region,’ says senior State Department official

Phil Reeker, the top State Department official for Europe, has criticized Turkey’s policy in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterraenan, while voicing concerns that Ankara’s activities are undermining the unity of the NATO alliance.

“We have conveyed to Turkey repeatedly that its overflights of Greek territory, its drilling activities in the waters off Cyprus, its signing of a maritime delimitation MOU with Libya, and its stated intent to explore for hydrocarbons on the basis of that MOU are provocative, unhelpful, and raise tensions in the region,” Reeker said in a letter to American Hellenic Institute (AHI) on behalf of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

AHI President Nick Larigakis had written to Pompeo on June 25 to convey the institute’s grave concern about Turkey’s threat to stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In the letter, Reeker said that Washington “continues to object strenuously” to Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems.

“Our suspension and pending removal of Turkey from the F-35 program in response to the S-400 acquisition signals the seriousness of the administration’s approach to this issue and our willingness to impose consequences. We are deeply concerned with reports that Turkey is continuing its efforts to bring the S-400 into operation, and we have stressed that the S-400 issue remains a major obstacle in the bilateral relationship and at NATO,” he said.

Reeker said that US sanctions on Turkish individuals and entities following Turkey’s October 2019 incursion into northeast Syria laid the groundwork for a negotiated ceasefire that remains in place.

“Secretary Pompeo takes his responsibilities under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) seriously and fully intends to comply with the law. The Department cannot pre-judge sanctions decisions or preview a timeline for a determination specific to this transaction,” he said.

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