Greece Concerned About Turkey’s “Destabilizing Role”

Greek Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis expressed concern over Turkey’s destabilizing role in the eastern Mediterranean at a speech in Washington on Thursday.

Addressing the the eighth annual “EU Defence Policy Forum 2019” at the United States Institute of Peace, the Greek defense minister said that Greece has asked Ankara to “refrain from further unilateral actions that violate international law.”

Describing a worrying momentum which has begun to develop around Ankara’s announcements of illegal oil and gas drilling in the wider region, Apostolakis clarified that Greece has asked Turkey to respect the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus.

He added that the country has also asked Turkey to abstain from further unilateral actions which violate international law and undermine stability in the region.

Cooperation with the US is a “defense priority” for Greece, explained Apostolakis, who referred to the new prospects opening up for the deepening of cooperation after the completion of the Strategic Dialogue.

“In this context, we welcome the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019,” the defense minister noted. The deeper relationship with the US, as well as the Partnership Act, was made possible with the support of Senators Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Marco Rubio of Florida.

Apostolakis also underlined the importance of Defense Secretary Pompeo’s participation in the recent trilateral summit of the nations of Greece, Israel and Cyprus.

Earlier, Apostolakis met with Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan to reaffirm the US and Greek commitment to joint cooperation, with the aim of strengthening bilateral defense and security as well as NATO.

According to a spokesperson, Sullivan underscored the strategic importance of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans, while highlighting Greece’s role as a pillar of stability and as a key American partner in the region.

Apostolakis reportedly briefed Sullivan on the upcoming general elections in Greece, stressing the need for maintaining the “exceptional” level of communication between Athens and Washington.