The timing of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s reply letter to his Greek counterpart, just ahead of the presidential election, might add a domestic political dimension to its diplomatic one, but that does not change its substance.
The messages in the letter are clear. The US deplores Turkey’s ongoing survey activity in areas over which Greece asserts jurisdiction in the East Mediterranean, noting that these unilateral actions raise tensions in the region.
At the same time, Pompeo highlights as the standing US approach to the management of Greek-Turkish relations and the broader issue of stability in the East Mediterranean, the principle that coercion, threats, intimidation and military activity will not resolve any problems or lower tensions in the region.
For its part, Athens has kept reiterating the valid point that Ankara’s actions threaten to destabilize NATO’s southeastern flank.
Washington seems to agree. In his letter, Pompeo welcomed Greece’s stated commitment to resolving disputes through dialogue and in accordance with international law, and expressed his appreciation for the fact that Greece is taking all necessary measures to avoid an accident, while at the same time calling on “our NATO ally Turkey to end its calculated provocations and immediately begin exploratory talks with Greece.”
And it is not only the secretary of state of this Republican administration. It is indeed a positive development that the foreign policy and security establishment in Washington, as represented by officials of all levels in the State Department and the Pentagon, Senators and Congressmen of both parties who deal with international relations, as well as think-tank analysts, is moving to a common assessment with respect to the increased value of Greece and its role – in Pompeo’s words – as a real “pillar of stability.”
This is not a rhetorical exaggeration. More and more influential voices are expressing this view, and for reasons that have to do with the reality in our area, they mean it.
It remains to be seen exactly how and to what extent the US will actively implement this reiterated and essentially bipartisan position. It does not matter so much whether Secretary Pompeo’s letter, apart from its clear diplomatic aims, may also be part of an effort to attract the votes of the Greek-American community.
After all, for any Turkish analyst or official, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself, the “Greek equation” not only includes Greece’s power of deterrence and its membership in the EU and NATO, but also the fact that it has a significant diaspora, especially in America, whose role Turkey must take into account when it formulates its policies.