With uncertainty which way the United States would tilt in a conflict, a Turkish analyst advised the American government to move away from its plans for closer military cooperation with Greece.
Before the countries agreed to try to set an agenda for talks to cool down tensions, Turkey had been increasing provocations, including in the Aegean and East Mediterranean, claiming waters near Greek islands for energy drilling.
That was under a maritime deal with Libya dividing the seas between them, unrecognized by the United Nations and any other country, Turkey pulling back an energy research vessel and warship from the island of Kastellorizo.
“As much as it may appear that the US and Turkey are beginning a new phase on Libya, other actors in the region are doing everything in their power to prevent Turkish-American cooperation in Libya,” Ali Cinar, a foreign policy expert on US-Turkey relations, wrote in a commentary published on the website of Turkish state broadcaster TRT.
With Turkey sending military aid to a UN-recognized government in Libya, Greece and others support rebels in another part of the country, further agitating relations between the countries.
Cinar pointed to the US utilizing military bases and facilities in Greece’s northern port city of Alexandroupoli amid rising tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly after Turkey first said it would look for energy off Crete, and as it's already drilling off Cyprus in defiance of the European Union.
Cinar was rankled that US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt sided with Greece over the contentious maritime boundaries agreement signed between Turkey and Libya by saying that all Greek islands, regardless of size, are entitled to continental shelf and exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“The US needs to be more transparent and open in every exercise carried on with Greece,” Cinar wrote, cautioning Washington against “stretching relations with Turkey even more.”
Pyatt was at odds with the State Department which, while generally supporting Greece, said the waters in question were “disputed,” with President Donald Trump favoring Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The US and Greece last tear signed a revised defense cooperation pact providing for increasing joint US-Greece and NATO activity at Larissa, Stefanovikio, and Alexandroupoli as well as infrastructure and other improvements at the Souda Bay naval base off the island of Crete.