Greece’s leadership role in promoting regional cooperation and Turkey’s aggressive actions in the Aegean and Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone topped the agenda for Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington yesterday.
The State Department’s readout after the talks was as follows:
“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met today with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias at the Department of State. Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Kotzias discussed the excellent state of bilateral relations and agreed to establish a U.S.-Greek Strategic Dialogue on key areas of cooperation. The Secretary commended Greece for its leadership role in the region, including efforts to address challenges in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean. The Secretary also offered continued support for Greece’s economic recovery and underscored the importance the United States places on its role as the honored country at the 2018 Thessaloniki International Fair. The two agreed to remain in close communication on these and other bilateral, regional, and global issues of mutual interest, and to work closely together in coming days to ensure stability of the Eastern Mediterranean.”
The talks also included discussion regarding cooperation in the areas of security, energy, and technology. The prospects of Eastern Mediterranean gas and oil deposits bolstering regional energy cooperation were also reviewed.
Kotzias underlined the need to ensure stability and security in the region, and he detailed Turkey’s actions and violations, especially its efforts to impede Cyprus’ hydrocarbons exploration in its EEZ.
“I think bilateral relations are on a positive course. I underlined the need to ensure security and stability in the region. I referred more analytically to Turkey’s behaviour, to the need to support the Republic of Cyprus regarding its international rights, and to the need to treat Cyprus not only as “problem” of the UN, but as a sovereign state, with specific roles and capabilities in the region,” Kotzias said.
Kotzias said that Pompeo was also skeptical about Turkey, and they agreed that it unacceptable for a Nato member-state to be holding two Greek army officers, but Turkey has also incarcerated quite a number of US citizens, Kotzias said.
Kotzias discussed the FYROM naming talks with Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wes Mitchell, and said that Washington is not pressuring Athens on the issue.
He said Athens believes one of the five names tabled by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz should be chosen, and that Athens has a strategy of friendly cooperation with its neighbour after the naming settlement.