President Joe Biden and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attend a reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON, DC – A wide range of issues of bilateral, regional and international interest were raised during the private meeting between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and US President Joe Biden on Monday but also in the extended talks between the two delegations that followed.
According to government sources, the Greek side appears very satisfied with the first day of the Greek prime minister’s programme in Washington, noting that the climate at the meeting of the two leaders was very good. The US President is well aware of the issues of the Eastern Mediterranean, shows special interest in them, while his extremely positive feelings towards Greece were reflected both in his frequent references to the Greek-American community and in the time he devoted to these contacts, the same sources said and added:
US-Greek relations are at the their best and Greece has an important role to play in the matter of defending and consolidating democracy worldwide, an issue for which Joe Biden shows lively interest, namely the battle between democracies and authoritarian regimes. Mitsotakis is expected to dedicate a large part of his speech to this issue when addressing a joint Congressional session on Tuesday.
The discussion also focused on Ukraine and the united western front against the Russian invasion, but also on how the USA will contribute in practice to making Europe independent of Russian gas. According to the same sources, they also discussed the transformation of Alexandroupolis into a regional energy hub, as well as the many and important US investments in Greece.
During the contacts, it became clear, according to the same sources, that Greek democracy has now proved its resilience as it has overcome the difficult years of the economic crisis, with the economy emerging stronger and its institutions becoming better protected. The Greek side, in fact, expressed the desire for bilateral cooperation to be extended to all possible areas, while Mitsotakis expressed the hope that Biden will be able to visit Greece in the near future.
During the discussion between the two leaders, Kyriakos Mitsotakis set out all the details concerning the intensifying Turkish provocations, namely the overflights over inhabited Greek islands.
“It is now clear that everyone understands that expansionism and revisionism have no place in an increasingly complex global landscape,” government sources said after the meeting at the White House, confirming that the issue of Turkish provocations was not raised on its own but as part of security concerns in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Regarding the issue of the sale of American F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, a competent government source referred to Tuesday’s speech by the Greek prime minister to the Congress, stressing, however, that it is better for some issues not to be discussed in public. The same sources also stressed that Mitsotakis referred to the Cyprus issue, reiterating that a two-state solution in Cyprus cannot be accepted.
Government sources also confirmed that in the context of bilateral defence cooperation, Greece has decided that the 5th generation fighter aircraft of the Air Force will be US F-35s. According to the same sources, Mitsotakis expressed the desire for Greece to join this programme, clarifying that Athens is interested in buying an F-35 squadron before the end of the current 10-year period, and specifically after 2028, when there will be the necessary fiscal space for a such a move.
The same people revealed that a few days ago the company producing the F-35s, Lockheed Martin, also expressed in writing its interest for Greece to join the specific programme and Greece’s affirmative response will be sent within the next few days. “If we can agree on all the parameters, the specific aircraft will be acquired after 2028, while the best way of financing such a long-term investment for Greece in 2030 will be sought,” the same sources noted, revealing Lockheed Martin’s interest in investing in the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAV) with the necessary clarification that the Greek state will retain the majority stake and the control of the company.
The two leaders also agreed on the issue of reducing the price of gas internationally through the imposition of a ceiling. In fact, the two leaders agreed to coordinate their actions in view of the crucial extraordinary EU Summit at the end of May, hence they reportedly authorised Nikos Tsafos, who is appointed special adviser to the Greek Prime Minister on energy issues, and Amos Hochstein, an adviser to President Biden on energy issues, to work closely together on this issue.
According to sources, in order to keep the front against the Russian invasion united, it is essential to protect households and businesses. Greece has already done so with great courage, raising funds from the national budget, but this does not mean that there should not also be action on a European level, they said, confirming that Greece is waiting for the relevant proposals to be submitted by the Commission.
The same sources estimated that a solution can be given either through the utilisation of the non-allocated loans from the Recovery Fund, or through the imposition of a ceiling on the wholesale market of natural gas internationally.
As they said, the Russian gas ‘switch’ cannot be turned off overnight. Regarding the Eastmed pipeline, the Greek side reiterated its positions that the final choice, namely whether the solution of the pipeline or that of the liquefied natural gas transportation will be approved, will ultimately be determined by the market and the cost. However, the warm US support for electricity interconnections was reaffirmed, without excluding US investments in them in the future.
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Voters in Turkey returned to the polls Sunday to decide whether the country’s longtime leader stretches his increasingly authoritarian rule into a third decade, or is unseated by a challenger who has promised to restore a more democratic society.
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