Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ reference during the tripartite Greece-Cyprus-Egypt Summit to Mike Pompeo’s statements back from his visit in Athens last Saturday can only be seen as a sign of discomfort.
It is noted that Mike Pompeo said the US would not allow illegal drilling on the Cypriot EEZ’s block 7, only to go on and explain that they would use diplomatic means, as this is a conflict that cannot be militarized. However, regarding the Greek-Turkish relations as well, when asked about the States’ response in the event that the Turks attack a Greek island, he replied that “rest assured we will act to protect and preserve the state’s fundamental sovereign values, the state of law and the values of ownership”.
The first question that is raised is how useful Mike Pompeo’s promises actually are, when the US president leaves the Syrian Kurds unprotected at the mercy of Erdogan. Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria is seen as a green light for Ankara to launch an attack to exterminate the YPG Kurds, who were the most loyal US allies in the war against ISIS since 2011. The second question is whether the Greek Prime Minister is unaware of Mike Pompeo’s statements’ actual impact. If he is aware, then why is he referencing them?
Tayyip Erdogan proves to be a world-class player, maneuvering between the US, Russia and Iran, not hesitating to clash with great powers when he believes this is in the interest of his country. Completely disregarding the international law, the UN, the European Union, he makes the most out of the Turkish armed forces’ power by effectively managing the threat. He has a strong, shock-resistant economy, and a war industry to support his armed forces.
But this is well known, as is his revisionist policy on the eastern and western borders of his country. The question remains, what is Greece doing about it? So far it has become a beggar before the European capitals – Paris, Berlin, The Hague – looking for a bit of sympathy from the EU, while citing Pompeo’s statements of no substance, as if it were seeking a patron to face the Turkish threat.
He did not call for sanctions against Turkey
Meanwhile, in the three months of his serving as Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis has not even called for the implementation of the previous EU Summit’s decision to impose sanctions on Turkey for its illegal activity within the Cypriot EEZ. He withdrew the Greek fighting aircrafts from the celebration of Cyprus’ independence – which was a Greek decision, as Cypriot officials disclosed.
As Kyriakos Mitsotakis said after his meeting with Erdogan, “he believes in interpersonal relations”. Erdogan does too, yet he also believes that he owns the Aegean and that his country is too big to be restricted. He thinks the same way about Cyprus, for which the Mitsotakis government – apart from the statements – seems to believe that it is far away. However, while Kyriakos Mitsotakis relies on his interpersonal relations, Erdogan has multiplied the provocations in the Aegean, escalates the attacks on Cyprus’ sovereignty, and has freed up a few thousand immigrants to fill the Greek islands by creating internal political problems.
No plan for the Balkans
Meanwhile, Erdogan is improving his relations even with Turkey’s perennial enemy, Serbia, and he shares with Vucic that the two countries’ relations have reached their apex. At the same time, Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with Kosovo’s president, Hakim Thaci, a symbolic move that no Greek prime minister has tried in the past. He stays distant from the only potential ally in the region, North Macedonia, although he recognizes how important it is for the Greek aircrafts to guard the Greek airspace. If the motive of North Macedonia’s European accession prospects seizes to exist, then he might as well see her sitting on Turkey’s lap. What a glory for the party’s Macedonian fighters… /ibna