ATHENS – Stepping up American support, the United States Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, said a deal between Libya and Turkey to divide the seas between them – Turkey said it would drill for energy off Crete – was “unproductive and provocative.”
Pyatt said inhabited Greek islands are on the same footing as mainland coastline in the delineation of marine zones, responding to questions from reporters about the agreement that saw Turkey claim waters near Greek islands without recognizing them.
Pyatt also noted that Turkey was already hunting for oil and gas in Cypriot sovereign waters, ignoring calls to stop from the legitimate government of the island where Turkey has occupied the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also was pressed by the US to stop, but didn’t, and the European Union issued only soft sanctions, amid fears that he could flood the bloc with millions more refugees through Greek islands who went to his country fleeing war and strife in the Middle East and other regions.
Asked whether there would be a diplomatic initiative to de-escalate tensions between Greece and Turkey, he said that the US would remain diplomatically “engaged,” said Kathimerini, using careful diplomatic language designed to stay neutral and say nothing.
Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, meeting US President Donald Trump in the White House on Jan. 7, had hoped for US intervention with Erdogan but got no commitment from the American leader, who said he considers Erdogan a friend.
Still, Pyatt said the Trump-Mitsotakis talks were a success although they didn’t give Greece the full assurance sought, apart from lip service from the American President that there were always talks going on with Turkey.
That led US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to later say there would be some form of diplomacy with Erdogan who has shown nothing but disdain for that approach and has given Turkish ships the full-speed ahead for drilling off Cyprus, with plans to do the same off of Crete as well too.