Next week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will head to Greece on a visit during which he expresses his country’s support for Athens in its border dispute with Ankara, while the Turkish National Security Council called for respecting the rights of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The US State Department said in a statement that Pompeo’s visit to Greece is part of a European tour that also includes Italy, the Vatican and Croatia.
On his second visit in less than a year to Greece, the US Secretary will travel to Thessaloniki (north) and Crete, where Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will meet him, and he will also visit the NATO naval base in Souda Bay.
The US State Department stated that Pompeo will stress during his stay in Greece the commitment of Washington and Athens to promoting security and peace in the eastern Mediterranean, and “will celebrate the strongest Greek-American relations in decades.”
Pompeo visited Cyprus two weeks ago, where he urged Turkey to stop activities that cause tension in the eastern Mediterranean, calling on all parties to pursue diplomatic means.
Ankara supports the dialogue
In the meantime, the Turkish National Security Council confirmed its support for the dialogue for the equitable sharing of natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean, during its meeting on Thursday headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
A statement issued by the Council said that the Turkish people will not be negligent in protecting their rights and interests on land, sea and air, as it was previously, stressing support for dialogue “in all forums regarding the equitable sharing of natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean.”
The Council called on what it described as countries that move in contravention of the law and international treaties to rationality in resolving disputes, stressing that Ankara always stands by right and justice in all regional and global disputes, and adopts the same position regarding the Eastern Mediterranean.
The statement called on all institutions – led by the European Union – and all countries related to the conflict to respect Turkey’s principled position and the rights and interests of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
A growing issue
For her part, the senior advisor to the Presidency of the Turkish Republic, Gulnur Aybet, said that the issue of the eastern Mediterranean has grown to include the entire Mediterranean, and that what contributed to this was Greece and Cyprus’ attempt to deal with the issue with an “extremist approach.”
In a speech during the International Conference for the Eastern Mediterranean, she said that Greece and Cyprus have moved away from fairness, not only in defining areas of maritime jurisdiction, but even in sharing natural resources, noting that the United States and the European Union are biased towards Greece.
There is a dispute between Turkey, on the one hand, and Greece and Cyprus, on the other hand, over oil and gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean, which raises fears of a more intense conflict.
The dispute escalated last August 10, when Turkey sent a ship to explore natural gas in sea waters, and the tension reached its peak at the end of the same month when the two countries held parallel military exercises.
However, the level of tension between Greece and Turkey decreased last Tuesday, with the two countries announcing their intention to resume bilateral negotiations soon.