The Greek prime minister is heading to the White House on Monday to meet with US President Joe Biden, armed with Greece’s steadily growing credibility over the last decade and the advantages of the country’s geographical position and regional alliances.
His only – and indisputably reasonable – demand is the recognition for Greece’s contribution and, by extension, some assurances from the leading power of the trans-Atlantic alliance of security from external threats, regardless of where they stem from.
During his discussion with Biden, Mitsotakis has every reason to appear like a predictable – yes, predictable – partner, as he is speaking on behalf of a country which the US can count on; a country that is a stable member of NATO, which more than fulfills its responsibilities as such, and which is always on the “right side” of history no matter what the crisis.
The Greek premier will obviously outline the country’s clear position on the matter of Russia’s war on Ukraine – manifested in both words and concrete actions – highlighting the special bond resulting from the presence of a sizable ethnic Greek community in areas that have been particularly badly hit.
He will also talk about deepening Greek-US defense ties, as confirmed by the recent ratification of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement and the ongoing upgrade program for Greece’s F-16 fighter jets, while the prospect of Greek participation in the F-35 program is also under discussion.
Within the broader context of geostrategic cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean, he will underline Greece’s role as an energy hub thanks to the ongoing upgrade of the Alexandroupoli port, but also the tripartite partnership with Israel and Cyprus, which is supported by the US (3+1) and is clearly not aimed at undermining any other country in the region.
The prime minister has little to gain from focusing on Turkey’s aggressive behavior. Once he presents a detailed picture of Greece’s positive and useful role to the US and the West in the area, he could add that Greece is being subjected to consistently aggressive behavior from its NATO ally, whose words and actions pose a threat not only to Greece but also, to the stability of the alliance’s southeastern flank, while undermining the West’s role and status in an exceptionally sensitive part of the world.
The Americans will form their own opinion of Ankara’s overall stance towards the alliance and also towards the Ukraine war.
That said, the Greek prime minister would be well within his right to mention that actions like unauthorized flights with American-made F-16s – which Turkey now wants to upgrade – over the Greek islands do little to serve the “gentleman’s agreement” ostensibly reached between Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the former’s recent trip to Istanbul. He could also underscore that the last thing NATO needs right now is an “unfortunate incident” between two of its members.