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Editorial

A Serious Mistake in the Joint Statement

September 30, 2020

Something was ‘lost in translation’ in the joint statement released by the United States and Greece, which was posted on the website of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs discussing the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Greece.

A serious mistake was made, a topic that should never have even been discussed between the two delegations, something that is so easy to discern that one is surprised – and at the same time worried – about why it happened.

Both sides bear the responsibility: the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. State Department.

What was the reason for including in the joint statement the reference to “the historic Prespes Agreement and North Macedonia’s subsequent accession to NATO”?

It is irrelevant that they later deleted the word ‘historic.’

If this is not expediency at the expense of the Greek government and the Prime Minister, it certainly looks like it was. And yet, in the best of cases, it shows a worrisome superficiality.

While it was the main Opposition party, the current government was strongly against the ‘Prespes Agreement.’ But the party leaders warned its supporters and members of Parliament early and correctly that once it was voted upon by the Parliament, the issue was closed. That the party would not seek to overthrow it.

So how does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs come along and agree to include, in a joint announcement, a reference to this issue and to characterize it as ‘historic’?

It raises questions and even suspicions that the State Department wanted such a reference to be made in public. They certainly know the significance of this report. If not the Minister of Foreign Affairs himself, then his associates.

So what was Washington aiming at with this statement? To justify Alexis Tsipras? And if so, why?

And I have to say that Tsipras is right to protest. After all, they offered him an easy opportunity – should he let it go to waste? Of course not.

Beyond all that, the fact that Pompeo was hosted at Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ house in Chania, at his family’s home – the house once visited by President Bush Sr., is undoubtedly a gesture of appreciation from the U.S. Secretary of State to the Prime Minister of Greece.

The visit to Crete also gave the Secretary of State the opportunity to better assess the great value of the U.S. base at Souda Bay. And he got a taste of the unsurpassed Cretan hospitality.

He also had the chance to better understand the significance of the crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean for the West. Meanwhile, he had the opportunity to forget – at least for a little while – the problems back in Washington. 

 

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