At a pivotal point in time for the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean in terms of the role Greece can play in the region, the visit of the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is of particular importance to both Greece and the wider region.
The Greek-US relations really began reshaping after the first trip of former Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias to Washington and New York in April 2015 took place, which triggered the multidimensional and energetic foreign policy pursued by the government of Alexis Tsipras. Excellent relations with both the Obama and Trump governments led to the launch of Greece’s Strategic Dialogue with the US in December 2018 which, alongside the expansion of the tripartite partnerships in the Eastern Mediterranean region, highlighted Greece as a pillar of stability in the area and as a strategic partner for the States.
Mike Pompeo, who arrived in Athens from North Macedonia on Friday night October 4, began his contacts on Saturday morning with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at Maximos Mansion.
During his meeting with the Greek Prime Minister, the US Foreign Minister emphasized Greece’s position as a source of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, while also pointing out its positive influence in promoting regional political and economic cooperation. The discussion also extended to the area of energy co-operation, while, according to a State Department announcement, he appeared very pleased with the economic reform program the Greek Prime Minister presented to him.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis on his behalf brought up during his on-camera discussion with the American official the issue of the Turkish provocations against Greece and Cyprus as well, essentially calling for a US intervention against Turkey.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis went on to point out to Mike Pompeo that in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean movements are constantly recorded that constitute violations of international law. He stressed that Turkey’s recent moves clearly violate the sovereign rights of Cyprus, which on its behalf calls for the implementation of international law. He also added that he was looking forward to the US contribution towards achieving a more constructive ambiance of cooperation.
In addition, the US Secretary of State also met with National Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, emphasizing the further expansion of security cooperation.
“Minister Pompeo and Defense Minister Panagiotopoulos discussed issues of bilateral security cooperation, further enhanced by the US-Greece Mutual Defense Agreement. The minister extended the gratitude of the United States of America for Greece’s vital contributions as an ally to NATO and for fulfilling its 2% spending commitment”, the State Department said in a statement.
The signing of the Protocol of Amendment to the Agreement on Mutual Defense Cooperation
US Foreign Secretary Mike Pompeo’s final stop in Athens on Saturday October 5 was at the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he was welcomed by his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias. The two Ministers spoke in private, whereas afterwards the two delegations engaged in extended discussions. After their discussion was completed, Dendias and Pompeo signed a protocol amending the Greece-US Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement in the presence of the Minister of Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos and of the Minister of Environment and Energy Affairs Kostis Hatzidakis.
In their joint statements to the press, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias expressed his satisfaction for the signing of the Protocol to the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement, noting that “today, by updating the Agreement the strategic partnership of the two countries receives a significant upgrade, while at the same time we prove in the most convincing way the eagerness we share to ensure the effectiveness of our defense capabilities”.
From his part, Mike Pompeo sent clear messages to Turkey from Athens. Regarding Turkey’s illegal activity and its intentions to proceed to drilling operations, the US Foreign Minister stressed that it has become clear for the US that “these actions in international waters are governed by a set of rules. We have told the Turks that illegal drilling is unacceptable and that we will continue our diplomatic efforts to ensure – as always – that legal activity is never undermined whenever it is implemented under international law”. /ibna