With the U.S. elections less than a month away and American-Greek and American-Armenian communities making their frustrations heard, Washington has made its most harshest comments towards Turkey to date.
The Armenian National Committee of America wrote on Twitter that “the Trump Administration is outraging millions of voters by abandoning Christian Armenian civilians to Turkish/ISIS slaughter.”
This was retweeted by Hellenic Leaders, a national network of Greek American community leaders who have distinguished themselves in American civic life to encourage an active form of citizenship, with their own comment that “Greek-Americans are outraged as well.”
— HellenicLeaders (@HellenicLeaders) October 13, 2020
The combined communities of Greeks and Armenians in the U.S. account for over three million people, a powerful voting bloc.
The “bromance” that U.S. President Donald Trump has with Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is well documented. Trump openly calls Erdoğan a “very good person,” among many other complimentary comments, and the American president’s personal business dealings in Turkey is well known.
However, with Turkey orchestrating a war against Armenians in Artsakh, partially opening the ghost town of Varosha in Cyprus, and once again violating Greece’s continental shelf in the East Mediterranean, it appears that election priorities are now overtaking Trump’s personal friendship with Erdoğan and his business deals.
“The U.S. deplores Turkey’s announcement of renewed Turkish survey activity in areas where Greece also asserts jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean. We strongly urge Turkey to end this calculated provocation and allow exploratory talks with Greece,” U.S. State Department spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus said on Twitter, the first so-called strong response this administration has given against Turkey.
The U.S. deplores Turkey's announcement of renewed Turkish survey activity in areas where Greece also asserts jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean. We strongly urge Turkey to end this calculated provocation and allow exploratory talks with Greece. https://t.co/Oc8zyJssj6
— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) October 13, 2020
In the official statement, the U.S. State Department wrote “the United States deplores Turkey’s October 11 announcement of renewed Turkish survey activity in areas over which Greece asserts jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
“Turkey’s announcement unilaterally raises tensions in the region and deliberately complicates the resumption of crucial exploratory talks between our NATO Allies Greece and Turkey,” the statement continued.
“Coercion, threats, intimidation, and military activity will not resolve tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. We urge Turkey to end this calculated provocation and immediately begin exploratory talks with Greece. Unilateral actions cannot build trust and will not produce enduring solutions,” the statement concluded.
Despite the strongly worded statement against Turkey, it is unlikely that Erdoğan will recall the Turkish Oruç Reis research vessel and the warships escorting it out of Greece’s maritime waters and continental shelf.
It remains to be seen how the U.S. will progress forward in dealing with Turkey if it refuses to de-escalate tensions.
It also begs the question, with Trump dodging denouncements of Turkish aggression against Greece, as well as his refusal to recognize the Greek genocide, is this strongly worded statement against Turkey just weeks before the election come to little to late?