U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed gratitude on Tuesday saying relations between the United States and Greece are “at an all time high and getting stronger.”
Speaking from the Souda Bay military base on the island of Crete, on the second day of a five-day regional tour, Pompeo encouraged Greece to pursue talks with Turkey over the East Med standoff.
“Today I’m in Crete to showcase one of America’s strongest military relationships throughout all of Europe,” Pompeo said. “We, the Americans, look to Greece as a true pillar for stability and prosperity in the eastern Mediterranean, and we’re incredibly proud to support its leadership.”
Greece has been looking to the U.S. and the European Union for support in its dispute with neighboring Turkey, which it accuses of encroaching on its sovereign rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Last month 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, and put its armed forces on alert. The dispute has led to fears of open conflict.
EU leaders are to discuss potentially imposing sanctions on Turkey for its actions later this week.
But tension has eased somewhat recently, with Athens and Ankara announcing they will restart an ongoing process of exploratory talks. Technical discussions on a military level have also been taking place at NATO for the avoidance of a military accident, such as the collision in August of warships from the two sides, which reportedly caused minor damage to a Turkish frigate and no injuries on either side.
“We strongly support dialogue between NATO allies Greece and Turkey and encourage them to resume discussion of these issues as soon as possible,” Pompeo said in brief statements after meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
“I spoke with (NATO) Secretary-General (Jens) Stoltenberg just two days ago on the progress being made at NATO. And we hope that these talks can continue in a serious way.”
Amid the tension with Turkey, Greece has announced major arms purchases, including fighter jets from France, as well as warships, helicopters and weapons systems.
“In the Mediterranean, there should be no waves caused by threats and rivalry. It is a sea of strategic importance, also for the United States,” Mitsotakis said.
“It is also a key region for global stability. I was pleased to see that Mr. Pompeo shares our positions, understanding that tension between two members of NATO ultimately is not in anyone’s interest,” he added.
The two did not take any questions from the media after their brief remarks.
Sourced By: Associated Press