WASHINGTON – Walking a tightrope between the countries, US President Donald Trump spoke with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the phone in a bid to get them to call off a standoff in the seas.
According to the White House, Trump urged the two NATO allies “to commit to a dialogue” about their dispute when he spoke with Mitsotakis as the Republican National Convention that would renominate him was going on.
“President Trump reaffirmed that Greece and Turkey must commit to dialogue, which is the only path to resolving their differences. The two leaders also discussed important bilateral and regional issues,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere, reported Kathimerini.
That came after Trump spoke with Erdogan – whom he calls a friend and a “hell of a leader” in open admiration for his tough guy style – to discuss “regional developments and tensions in Eastern Mediterranean,” the Turkish Directorate of Communications said.
Mitsotakis reportedly thanked Trump for his interest, said Kathimerini and said Turkey was acting dangerously in acts “which endanger peace and stability in the wider region and test the cohesion of NATO.”
Both countries belong to the defense alliance whose Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has admitted he doesn't want any part of the brewing dilemma and wouldn't intervene over Turkish provocations, including sending fighter jets repeatedly into Greek airspace as well.
There's uncertainty which way Trump would tilt if fighting breaks out between Greece and Turkey even though US military forces recently held joint exercises in Greece, the US has drones in the country, the renewal of a military cooperation agreement and an annual US-Greece Strategic Dialogue.