A long-time Hellenophile, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden said if elected he would strengthen ties with Greece and get tough with Turkey if it continues provocations in Greek airspace and seas.
While President Donald Trump said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a friend, worrying Greeks and the Diaspora, Biden reiterated his long-standing commitment to Greece and Greek-Americans, said Kathimerini.
In an announcement titled Joe Biden’s vision for Greek Americans and US-Greece Relations, he said he wants to restore stability in the East Mediterranean where Turkey plans to drill for oil and gas off Greek islands.
With the election looming, Biden reached out to Greeks and Greek-Americans to remind them of his long-time support and the uncertainty around the volatile Trump, who has also praised Erdogan as “a hell of a leader.
Biden said he would have a “strong dialogue with both Greek-American leaders and the leadership of Greece to sustain the bond between our countries” and to “advance stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
He said that unlike Trump he would “call out Turkish behavior that is in violation of international law or that contravenes its commitments as a NATO ally, such as Turkish violations of Greek airspace,” an announcement said.
The statement reminded that Biden “recently called on the Trump administration to press Turkey to refrain from further provocative actions in the region against Greece, including threats of force.”
With Turkey already drilling off Cyprus in defiance of soft European Union sanctions as the bloc waffles about what to do, Biden said he would also “work diplomatically to bring a resolution to the Cyprus question,” an approach that has, however, failed for decades.
He noted that in 2014 he was the first US Vice-President to visit Cyprus in more than 50 years “and led White House diplomatic engagement on the Cyprus question.”
Turkey doesn't recognize Cyprus – a member of the EU that Turkey has been trying to join since 2005 – bars its ships and planes and has occupied the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion, keeping a 35,000-strong army there.
Biden, his campaign's statement said, “has long opposed the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus and supported a comprehensive settlement to reunify the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality.”
It wasn't said why he expressed his support in a statement instead of speaking publicly but added that if elected he would also “continue to be a strong voice for religious freedom globally, including the rights of the Greek Orthodox Church.”
“Joe has long been a strong supporter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and given unwavering support for the ability of the Patriarchate to function in its role as the center of the Greek Orthodox Church.
“He treasures his visit in 2011 to the Patriarchate and each of his meetings with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. He has called on Turkey to permit the reopening of the Halki Seminary and criticized the recent decision of the Turkish government to convert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque,” the announcement also said.
“Throughout his many years in public life, Joe Biden has a long record of engagement on issues important to Greek Americans and a record of support for strengthening the US-Greece relationship. He has worked personally with Greek leaders over many decades to strengthen the alliance,” it added.