The U.S. ambassador to Greece has criticized some Greek media for their reporting of the ongoing tensions in the Aegean involving Turkish forces.
Geoffrey Pyatt, speaking to U.S.-based outlet Vice News, said there had been “crazy stuff” published regarding escalating tensions around the Imia islets with Turkey.
He said: “I have a lot of people who have expressed to me this anxiety of some kind of an incident.
“There’s been some crazy stuff in the press. This stuff in ‘Parapolitika’ that was running about Imia 2 and the Americans planning … That’s completely manufactured; it’s not true.”
Pyatt also linked the rise in tensions between Greece and Turkey to efforts by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to be reelected in 2019.
Under Turkey’s recently amended constitution, Erdogan will enjoy significantly more executive powers if he is voted back in by a majority.
The U.S ambassador suggested some “turbulence” should be expected in Turkish-Greek relations during this electoral cycle with Ankara.
He also praised Greece’s handling of the two soldiers detained in Turkey and said the U.S. believed the pair should be released.
The case of Lieutenant Angelos Mitretodis and Sergeant Dimitris Kouklatzis, who were arrested for entering Turkey at the Evros border after they lost their way due to heavy snowfall during a routine patrol, has further soured relations between Athens and Ankara.
Ongoing talks with Skopje over the ‘Macedonia’ name dispute should find a solution “that is going to be agreed between the two prime ministers,” Pyatt also said, adding:
“There’s not a lot of external influence that is going to change that, one way or another.”
He also insisted the U.S. remained “friends” of the process, backing efforts by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz.
“I think we’re going to continue to follow it very closely […] with a real sense that the two sides have come further over the past few months than they have even come before,” Pyatt said.