As the US presidential election enters the final stretch, the different ethnic and social groups that comprise the mosaic of American society are trying to present their causes and secure pledges on the issues that concern them the most. In this context, the Greek-American community must exert its influence on both sides of the political spectrum to draw attention to Turkish provocations in the Aegean and East Mediterranean.
US President Donald Trump’s friendship with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan means that he is not playing the role Athens and Nicosia would like him to. On the other hand, Trump is also the only foreign leader Erdogan seems ready to listen to. Of course, what he told the Turkish leader would have to be very clear if Erdogan is to change course and the Greek-American community must apply pressure to ensure Trump’s stance is the best it can be.
At the same time, it also needs to urge Democratic candidate Joe Biden to take as clear a position as possible on the need to reduce tension caused in the region by Turkey. Turkish officials may prefer to see Trump re-elected, but they also know they cannot ignore any American president, even if he’s not the one they wanted. Despite his sympathy as senator and vice president for Greek and Cypriot affairs, Biden has avoided taking a firm position on the current situation. He was even reserved in his reaction to the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Such silence is hard to justify from a politician with a deep knowledge of the issues at hand.
The upcoming election evidently concerns America itself and the candidate’s focus is understandably on domestic matters. Citizens are not that interested in foreign affairs so this doesn’t rank high on pre-election platforms either.
But the next couple of weeks will be crucial in shaping public opinion, including that of the Greek-American community. It is not just about the votes and economic support they will give the candidates, but also the merits of the situation in terms of geopolitics.
Stability in the East Med is an American issue too, and achieving it cannot be accomplished with threats and tension, but only through dialogue.
US citizens of Greek descent must demand answers from both candidates on two simple questions: Are they concerned at the situation in the East Med and what do they propose to do to improve it? They also expect a clear message to be sent to Ankara, which is escalating the situation.
Even a close ally of both countries who does not want to be seen favoring either side cannot ignore the plain reality, which is that Turkey is not only creating tension with Greece and Cyprus, but is also on a collision course with France, Israel, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, countries that Greece and Cyprus – like the United States – are close to, and cooperate with, including on defense and security issues.