In Andravida for a multi-national military exercise, US Ambassador to Athens indicated that Washington is actively supportive of efforts to secure the return of two Greek army officers who have been imprisoned in a Turkish jail, and extolled Greece’s important regional role.
Pyatt described Greece as a country that builds bridges and as a pillar of regional stability.
Noting that yesterday he attended the “Artemis Strike” joint exercise in Souda, Crete, which brought together US, Israeli, and Greek forces, Pyatt noted the significance of the military cooperation with Greece and praised the capabilities of the Greek armed forces, and underlined the common strategic interests of the two countries.
The tenor of the remarks, at a juncture when tensions with Ankara are heightened, appeared to be a clear message of US solidarity with Greece.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the Iniohos 2018 manoeuvres – with the participation of fighter jets from Greece ( F-16 BLOCK 30/50/52+/M, F-4, M-2000, EMB-145H AEW&C) the US (F-15), UK (Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4), Italy (TORNADO), Cyprus (AW-139), the United Arab Emirates (MIRAGE 2000-9), – Pyatt stressed the importance of Athens and Ankara keeping open their channels of communication as regards the imprisonment of the two Greek soldiers.
In this regard, Pyatt said that the US is “fully engaged” regarding this issue, and he extolled the stance of the Tsipras government, which is to work with Ankara on a bilateral basis to secure the release of the two Greek captives.
The US envoy expressed hopes for a swift resolution of the issue.
Indeed, Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos at a press briefing today stressed that it is a bilateral issue, and that Athens contacts with foreign leaders and international organisations are intended to brief them on the issue and marshal support, rather than to solicit any direct intervention.
From the very beginning of the Greek officers’ captivity, Pyatt said publicly, at a forum in Delphi, that the US is monitoring the situation closely.
Yet it is unclear, given tense US-Turkey relations on a number of fronts and the erratic and defiant behaviour of the Erdogan regime, how much leverage Washington has in Ankara and whether it is prepared to expend diplomatic capital on a peripheral issue.
“It was an honor to meet our airmen participating in Iniohos 18,with 13 F15s , contributing to regional security and strengthening our relationship with #Greece and all our international partners. Thanks for your service!! @USAFE,” Pyatt wrote in a tweet on his personal account.