The Greek government is closely eyeing US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Ankara today and tomorrow for talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlet Cavusoglu with keen interest, as it comes on the heels of Turkey bellicose manoeuvres in the Aegean and within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone at sea.
Aside from the US-Turkey crisis over Ankara’s deadly incursions in Afrin, Syria to wipe out Kurdish fighters, diplomatic sources expect Tillerson to touch upon Turkey’s escalating aggressiveness towards regional American allies, the issue of Cyprus’ EEZ, where American companies such as Noble Energy have been actively involved in oil and gas exploration, and the near sinking of a Greek Coast Guard ship in the Aegean on 12 February.
Athens is hopeful that the US Secretary of State will take the opportunity at a joint news conference to diplomatically touch upon the need for Ankara de-escalate its hostile actions in the Aegean and the Mediterranean.
US Ambassador to Athens Geoffrey Pyatt will also be in Ankara today and tomorrow, where he and other American ambassadors will be holding consultations with Tillerson on a variety of issues, including energy.
The Greek government is also expecting Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s scheduled meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany today to be an opportunity for Berlin to stress the European Union’s consternation over Ankara intensely hostile behaviour towards member-states Cyprus and Greece.
Germany is one of Turkey’s biggest trading partners and bilateral relations have deteriorated greatly after Ankara’s sharp turn toward authoritarianism after the abortive July, 2016 coup against Erdogan, who since then has repeatedly unleashed unprecedented rhetorical attacks against Germany and The Netherlands, with Nazi comparisons.