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Politics

Mitsotakis Will Meet Biden at White House, But Talk Turkey?

ΑΤΗΕΝS – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House on May 16 will include discussions on a range of issues but it wasn’t said if they will talk about where the United States stands on Turkish aggressions – or will sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

In carefully worded statements from both sides in diplomatic language that is used to gently skirt delicate subjects, it was said the two will talk about where they stand on helping Ukraine against Russia’s invasion, climate change and energy security.

“The Prime Minister’s visit provides an opportunity to affirm our strong bilateral partnership and to celebrate 201 years of Greek independence,” read a statement from White House spokesman Jen Psaki, who has Greek roots.

“The leaders will take stock of our joint efforts to promote global security through NATO, as well as our shared goals for peace and prosperity in the region. They will also celebrate the history, democratic values, and trade and investment links that have united our peoples and countries for generations,” the statement added.

What it didn’t say was whether there could be any friction over reports that Turkey is succeeding in getting the US to sell F-16s after being barred from buying F-35’s because of purchasing Russian-made S-400 missile defenses.

Those undermine NATO’ security – the contradiction about praising Turkey for supporting the defense alliance not noted – and could be used against Greece in a conflict if troubles reach that point.

Worry at times rises over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vow to send energy research vessels and warships off Greek islands to hunt for energy after Turkey is already drilling off Cyprus, ignoring soft European Union sanctions.

The administration of Biden, who was thought to be in favor of Greece, also yanked support for the EastMed pipeline which tied together Greece, Cyprus and Israel, the US pulling back after objections from Turkey.

All that has raised concern among Diaspora groups such as the American-Hellenic Institute (AHI) whose President Nick Larigakis has written openly about fears that Biden may be leaning more toward Turkey despite the US and Greece renewing a military defense co-operation pact.

Outgoing US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt has repeatedly praised Greece as a “pillar of stability in the region,” and it wasn’t indicated if the incoming successor, Greek-American George Tsunis, would be briefed on the White House talks as he’s due to arrive in May.

Mitsotakis will also talk with other American officials, think tanks, leaders of the Greek-American community, visit Chicago for the Greek revolution parade, and go to Boston where he will speak at Boston College, returning to where he attended college at Harvard in adjacent Cambridge.

In a December, 2021 interview with the Washington Post he said, “President Biden is someone who knows our region very well and is very close to the Greek-American community,” but that was before developments geopolitically that have seen a shift in US thinking.

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