WASHINGTON, DC – Recognizing that Greece and the Republic of Cyprus are not the countries causing problems in the Southeast Mediterranean region, a State Department official commented on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee hearing concerning Libya.
Asked whether the U.S. would insist that any potential government in Libya should reject the Memorandum of Understanding with Turkey on the delimitation of maritime jurisdictions, Christopher Robinson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, affirmed the established American position and called on all the countries to abstain from actions that increase tension in the region.
This statement prompted the reaction of Senator Bob Menendez (NJ-D), who, through a series of questions, called on Robinson to clarify which were the countries creating these problems. Sen. Menendez then presented Turkey as the only country causing a problem, citing the memorandum on maritime jurisdiction as an example, an agreement he described as “outrageous.”
“This is very nice, [we call on] all the countries. But there is only one country that creates these problems. Turkey has made this outrageous claim, claiming a lane that crosses international waters and actually the territories of Greece, for example, as well as Cyprus… Why do we say ‘all countries’ when we actually know that there is only one that creates a real problem and that is Turkey?” asked the U.S. Senator.
Robinson responded that the U.S. does not want to see an escalation of tensions and that it has been diplomatically involved with all parties to achieve the goal of de-escalation.
Sen. Menendez, however, insisted and called on him to answer if Greece and Cyprus had caused problems in this case, with the State Department official forced to admit that the two countries had taken no provocative action.