Despite enduring enmity between Greece’s political parties, Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis will give rival leaders an overview of his talks with US President Donald Trump in Washington and other stops on an American tour when he returns.
After an earlier scheduled meeting was postponed when Trump had to turn his attention to impeachment hearings against him, it was re-set for Jan. 7, with no word on whether the US killing of Iran’s top General would change plans.
In an interview with the Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail, Mitsotakis referred to the recent deal Turkey signed with Libya dividing the seas between them, including near major Greek islands such as Rhodes and also Crete where Turkey wants to drill for energy.
Mitsotakis said that Greece “will not permit any Turkish activities that would infringe upon Greece’s sovereign rights,” after he said he hoped diplomacy and “goodwill” that hasn’t worked yet would prevail on Turkey’s belligerent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Mitsotakis, hoping the softer line might yet prevail, said that, “We are ready to talk with all our neighbors, including of course Turkey,” as Greece hasn’t responded vigorously to Turkey violating airspace with fighter jets and planning to drill near, or in, Greek waters.
“And if no agreement can be reached, we are even open to international jurisdiction,” he said. But, he added, “the red lines cannot be crossed by anyone,” indicating that Greece would be prepared to defend itself militarily.
In his talks in Washington, Mitsotakis said he would highlight Greece’s role of being a stabilizer in a volatile region and as the US signed another military cooperation deal and wants to expand its military presence in the country.
He will also brief the American political leadership on the EastMed pipeline which Greece, Israel and Cyprus have agreed to construct to transfer natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe although so far it’s a political agreement with investors being sought.
Speaking to reporters about the pipeline, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said it would boost Greece’s standing and could bring a financial windfall if developed while also tying Greece closer to Cyprus, Israel and Egypt.
Mitsotakis’ four-day visit, beginning Jan. 5, will also include meetings with US Senators and prominent leaders of the Greek-American community. He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis, Education Minister Niki Kerameus and Petsas.
Before his meeting with Trump, he will hold talks the same day with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, whose agency joined the European Union and European Central Bank in two first bailouts to Greece of 240 billion euros ($267.83 billion.)
On Jan. 8, Mitsotakis is due to visit the US Senate and meet with members of the Foreign Relations Committee, before meeting Republican and Democrat leaders in the House of Representatives that include friends and backers of Greece.
He will also attend a reception on the same day hosted by US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that will includes scores of leaders of the Greek-American community from across the country as well.