by Aggelos Skordas
The United States is praising Greece as “an anchor of stability in the eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkans,” Assistant Secretary of US State Department for European and Eurasian Affairs, Wess Mitchell, highlighted on Tuesday during a speech at Washington’s Heritage Foundation. Mitchell also warned Turkey that the US are not going to accept any kind of harassment of floating drills and violations in Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
“We were clear in our message to Turkish officials that harassment of floating drills in the EEZ of Cyprus is not something that we will allow to go unnoticed and for which we will not talk about”, Mitchell said in what is seen as a clear message to Ankara and an answer to Energy Minister Berat Albayrak who announced that the Turkish drill “Fatih” (Conqueror) is ready to conduct hydrocarbon surveys in the Mediterranean.
The Assistant Secretary of State also indicated that the US are already planning the strengthening of its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean region and returning to Cyprus, which he described as “a vulnerable state that needs greater Western attention while continuing process toward a bizonal, bicommunal federation”. As he said, Washington is working towards a stronger cooperation with Nicosia in the fields of countering terrorism and security.
Mitchell, who outlined Trump’s administration strategy in Europe, expressed the US’ discontent on the way Turkish officials chose to address neighbouring countries and allies: “We cannot be silent as Turkey’s leaders curb democratic freedoms and the rule of law, harangue Israel, and wield rhetoric or pursue policies that unnerve Ankara’s neighbours and our close friends and allies.”
He also explained that a possible violation from Ankara of the current status quo and the relationship with its neighbours would “cause the destruction of many generations in US national security. In the long run, Turkey is the only country in the region with height to counter-balance Iran. It is NATO’s ally with legitimate concerns about its security, including many which we share and we must help to deal with”.
Referring to the emerging purchase of Russian S-400 missiles by Turkey, Mitchell warned that such a move would damage its participation in military cooperation programs including that of the F-35 fighter jets.