WASHINGTON - As Turkey has increased provocations in the Aegean and East Mediterranean, US President Donald Trump lauded America's close ties with Greece, which couldn't celebrate the March 25 Independence Day from the Ottoman Occupation, which in 2021 will be a 200-year benchmark.
The US and Greece renewed a military cooperation deal in 2019 when the previously anti-American Radical Left SYRIZA was in power, perpetuated under the now-ruling New Democracy administration of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Greece is anxious that Turkey will take advantage of the pandemic to let human traffickers send more refugees and migrants to Greek islands. They had gone to Turkey fleeing war and strife in their homelands and hoped to reach the European Union.
Turkey is drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would do the same off Crete – where the US Navy has a base – under a maritime deal signed with Libya that was denounced by Mitsotakis.
Trump said the close partnership with Greece is promoting peace and stability in the Balkans, around the Black Sea, and the Eastern Mediterranean – despite Turkey's continuing provocations.
The comments were included in a message issued by Trump on the anniversary of the beginning of the Greek War of Independence on March 25, 1821 against the 400-year Ottoman rule
“On Greek Independence Day, we commemorate the rich history shared between the United States and Greece, which is fortified by our love of freedom and commitment to democratic institutions,” Trump said.
“(The) conviction for a freer and more prosperous world bolsters the alliance between the United States and Greece,” Trump said.
He added that the 2019 renewal of the defense pact – known as the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement – between the two allies concerning US military bases in Greece was vital.
“This agreement paves the way for closer collaboration on national security matters between our two countries for decades to come,” Trump said.
“Through such endeavors, the partnership between our countries advances our strategic national interests in stable and peaceful Eastern Mediterranean, Black Sea, and Western Balkans regions,” he said.