Pompeo seeks to use US influence to ease Greece-Turkey dispute
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that Washington will use its diplomatic and military influence in the region to try to ease a volatile dispute between NATO allies Greece and Turkey over energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Pompeo began a five-day regional tour in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, days after Greece and Turkey committed to restarting a diplomatic dialogue on the dispute that triggered a dangerous military build-up — and fears of military conflict — in the disputed maritime area over the summer.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app
“The United States and Greece shared views on the eastern Mediterranean and reaffirmed their belief that maritime delimitation issues should be resolved peacefully,” the two countries said in a joint statement after Pompeo met with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.
The two countries, it said, “reiterated their dedication to enhancing their close cooperation as NATO allies, using all appropriate means at their disposal, in order to safeguard stability and security in the wider region.” Relations between Greece and neighboring Turkey deteriorated sharply this year over disputed maritime boundaries and exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
NATO hails ‘good progress’ in Greece-Turkey Mediterranean talks
Turkey attempting to make rift between Greece, Cyprus but will fail: Expert
Turkey, Greece ready to ‘start exploratory’ talks, Ankara says
Turkey sent a research vessel, accompanied by warships, to prospect for energy resources in an area Greece claims is on its own continental shelf and where it claims exclusive economic rights. Athens sent warships of its own to the area.
European Union members later this week are to discuss imposing sanctions on Turkey for its actions.
In Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced support for the peaceful resolution of disputes and renewed a call for solutions that would protect everyone’s rights.
“I invite all countries in the Mediterranean that are our neighbors, and especially Greece, to stop viewing the eastern Mediterranean as a zero-sum game. Come, let’s together turn the Mediterranean into a basin of peace once again ... let’s make energy a matter for cooperation, not conflict,” Erdogan said.
Pompeo had discussed the situation in the eastern Mediterranean late on Sunday with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg as he headed to Greece.
Pompeo’s regional tour will also include Italy, the Vatican and Croatia.
Later Monday, he will depart to the Greek island of Crete where he is scheduled to meet with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and visit a US naval base at Souda Bay.
Last October, Pompeo visited Athens and signed a revised defense cooperation agreement with Greece that provided for increasing joint US-Greece and NATO activity at three locations in Greece as well as infrastructure and other improvements at Souda Bay.
Amid the tension with Turkey, Greece has announced major arms purchases, including fighter jets from France, as well as warships, helicopters and weapons systems.
Pompeo is the first US Secretary of State to visit Greece’s second-largest city of Thessaloniki. Security was tight in the port city, with the venue of Pompeo’s meeting with Dendias changing from the originally planned location, a local ministry, to a hotel for security reasons, authorities said.
Two separate protests against his visit were planned by left-wing groups for Monday evening.
During his visit to Thessaloniki, Pompeo signed a bilateral science and technology agreement, and hosted energy sector business leaders for a discussion to highlight energy diversification and infrastructure projects in Greece.
He also joined members of Thessaloniki’s Jewish community to commemorate Yom Kippur at the local Jewish Museum, as police cordoned off a large section of the city center. No date has yet been set for the start of the Greek-Turkish exploratory talks.
NATO hails ‘good progress’ in Greece-Turkey Mediterranean talksNATO said on Wednesday there had been “good progress” in military talks between Greece and Turkey aimed at avoiding clashes in the eastern ... Middle East
Turkey attempting to make rift between Greece, Cyprus but will fail: ExpertTurkey is trying to create a rift between Cyprus and Greece but will fail because the two countries will never publicly admit to their differences, ... World News
Turkey, Greece ready to ‘start exploratory’ talks, Ankara saysTurkey and Greece are ready to resume exploratory talks over their contested maritime claims in the eastern Mediterranean, the Turkish presidency said ... World News
Turkey pulls back Oruc Reis survey vessel for diplomacy with Greece: ErdoganTurkey pulled back its Oruc Reis seismic survey vessel from the eastern Mediterranean to allow for diplomacy with Greece, but this does not mean ... World News
Turks want peace on Turkey, Greece dispute despite politicians’ heated rhetoricAmid rising tensions between Greece and Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, Turkish people in Istanbul told Al Arabiya English that they would prefer ... Features
Greece to acquire 18 French-made Rafale jets as Turkey tension risesGreece is set to acquire 18 French-made Rafale warplanes, four multi-purpose frigates, and four navy helicopters amid tension with Turkey in the ... World News
Turkey says EU statement biased, ‘detached from reality’; open to talks with GreeceTurkey slammed a statement by European Union Mediterranean states on Friday, saying the comments were biased and “detached from reality”, but added ... World News