Greece’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said on Wednesday that he expects US President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration to play a more active role in attempting to calm tension in the eastern Mediterranean.
“We have every reason to welcome, along with all our partners in the region, the return of the United States to its central role as a leader of NATO,” Mitsotakis said after a meeting in Athens with Egyptian President, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.
Greece and Egypt are at odds with Turkey in a volatile maritime boundary dispute in the eastern Mediterranean over rights to search for and exploit natural gas deposits.
The European Union and the United States have both criticised Turkey’s ongoing maritime research missions in waters where Greece asserts jurisdiction. But Athens says it expects a Biden administration to be more engaged in the dispute.
“I believe that Greece and Egypt will welcome and have a positive attitude toward the determination of America’s contribution to the events of the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean in our troubled region,” Mitsotakis said.
The dispute between Greece and Turkey triggered a major military buildup over the summer that raised concerns of military confrontation.
For his part, Egyptian President al-Sisi agreed with the Greek leader and said both countries would “jointly address all those who want to threaten peace.”
“We discussed the events in our region and the adoption of policies by some that are at odds with the international community, and we agreed to jointly address all those who want to threaten peace,” President al-Sisi said during the press conference.
“We also agreed to strengthen each other in terms of defense relations.”
Al-Sisi then noted that they had also discussed the immediate need to tackle international terrorism and stop the countries that support it.
“Countries that support terrorism, help terrorists and encourage them must be held accountable,” he emphasised. “We have also agreed that global terrorism has nothing to do with religion and we reject any insult to any religion.”
In Athens for a two-day visit, el-Sisi also met with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, speaking, among other subjects, about the groundbreaking agreement on maritime territories between the two nations.
In August, Greece and Egypt signed a maritime deal demarcating the two countries’ maritime boundaries and setting out respective exclusive economic zones for the exploitation of resources such as oil and gas drilling.