Although the United States said links with Greece under the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA were the best they’ve ever been, New Democracy Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said he wants American help in dealing with rising Turkish provocations.
Dendias, in his first meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, said he asked for a “clean line of communication” between Athens and Washington in the event that “issues” arise with Turkey, which has been ramping up tension in the Aegean and off Cyprus, where it is drilling for oil and gas in the island’s sovereign waters.
Turkey and Greece, along with the United Kingdom – the former Colonial ruler which still has military bases on the divided island – are guarantors of security and worry is rising there could be a conflict, accidental or otherwise.
— Department of State (@StateDept) July 17, 2019
“The Americans noted this (request) and will answer us,” he said. With no experience in foreign affairs, he said he was “happy” one of his first meetings as foreign chief was with Pompeo, with whom he also discussed the Strategic Dialogue between the two countries and how to further deepen it, said Kathimerini.
“We all know that the close relationship between Greece and the US has longevity, but it is very important to deepen and expand it,” he said, adding that he invited Pompeo to attend the Strategic Dialogue when it takes place in Athens.
The two men also discussed regional energy developments and the trilateral cooperation between Greece, Israel and Cyprus, which is being backed by the US, the report added, and Pompeo tweeted the American standard line that “Greece is a pillar of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans and an important NATO ally.”
“We look forward to continuing to working closely together to promote stability and prosperity in the region,” he added, using careful diplomatic language designed to be vague and non-committal.
The priority for the US – which wanted former Premier Alexis Tsipras to allow expansion of an American military presence – was the extension of Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) between the two countries, the report also added.
Dendias also met with National Security adviser John Bolton, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez from New Jersey, a close friend of Greece and Cyprus, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi but it wasn’t reported what they said.