Pompeo Urges Peace, Sides with Greece in Turkish Border Dispute
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is visiting Greece for the second time this year, released a joint statement saying that the U.S. and Greece “reaffirmed their belief that maritime delimitation issues should be resolved peacefully.”
The statement continues, emphasizing that the two countries were ready and willing to employ “all appropriate means at their disposal, in order to safeguard stability and security in the wider region.”
The dispute, over potentially abundant natural gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean, has seen tensions between the two Aegean neighbors come closer to war than they have been in twenty-five years. In 1996, the two rival countries, both in NATO, almost clashed over an uninhabited island in the Aegean Sea that lies between them.
In 2016 there were a mind-boggling 16 rounds of talks between the two countries. The nations sought to resolve their maritime border disputes. Those collapsed. Since then, Greco-Turkish relations have worsened dramatically.
Recently, Greece announced that it would be bolstering its military capabilities in what will be its biggest military build-up in decades, according to The Guardian.
This build-up, part of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s €6.8-billion ($7.93B) defense plan, will see Greece purchase 18 French Rafale jets and four multi-purpose frigates, as well as upgrading its current naval vessel and old aircraft, as reported.
Additionally, the relationship between the U.S. and Turkey has also deteriorated severely over the past decade as their objectives in the Middle East have increasingly conflicted with one another. Most notably, they have clashed diplomatically in the drawn-out Syrian Civil War and conflict with the Islamic State (IS) over the roles of Kurdish anti-IS militias and Russian forces.
Following a Tuesday visit to a U.S. naval base on the Greek island of Crete, Sec. Pompeo will depart to visit Croatia, Italy, and the Vatican.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.