The US continues to encourage its allies in NATO, including Greece and Turkey, to work together in order to preserve peace and security in the region, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said on Tuesday.
The spokesperson called on the two countries to resolve their differences in a diplomatic manner while avoiding rhetoric that stokes greater tension.
He had been asked for a comment on the recent statements made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and how the US might respond if Turkey attacked Greece.
US State Department on Greece and Turkey
Noting the recent visit by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Washington, the spokesperson said that the US government had an important round of meetings with its Greek counterparts and knows that “Greece is an irreplaceable ally and a key ally of the United States in NATO.”
Similarly, according to the Athens-Macedonia News Agency, the spokesperson added that Turkey was an important US partner and an important ally in NATO. Furthermore, it was said that Washington would like to see its partners cooperate to preserve peace and security in the region.
On Tuesday, Greece said it does not intend to be dragged into an escalation with Turkey after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he does not want to meet the Greek prime minister ever again.
Speaking to Skai Radio Greek Foreign Minister, Nikos Dendias said Athens would not be drawn into escalation. “We have our own position. We won’t be drawn into an escalation…If we do it will be because the Greek government has decided to do so.”
Dendias said that Greece wants dialogue with Turkey, however, adding that this is not possible when Turkish fighter jets are conducting overflights over Greek airspace.
On Monday, Erdogan said he has no intention of ever meeting with Kyriakos Mitsotakis again following the latter’s criticism of Turkey during his recent visit to the United States.
While in the US, Mitsotakis criticized Turkey, although not explicitly, and appealed to lawmakers to bar Turkey from purchasing fighter jets during his historic address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, the first-ever by a Greek leader.
Without mentioning Turkey, Mitsotakis highlighted the security challenges facing Greece, including overflights over its territory.
Erdogan says Greece’s Mitsotakis “no longer exists for me”
In response to these comments, Erdogan stated that Mitsotakis spoke out against Turkey and no longer existed to him.
“He no longer exists for me. I will never agree to meet with him. We will continue forward with honorable politicians,” he stated.
Erdogan also accused Greece, a NATO ally, of harboring “terrorists” and said that allowing Athens’ readmission to the security bloc in 1980 had been a mistake.
“How is Greece treating us at the moment? Is not Greece a destination for the FETO organization at the moment?” Erdogan asked, referring to the Gülen movement, an organization that Turkey defines as terrorist.
“There are currently ten bases in Greece. Why are these bases being created in Greece? Against whom? At the moment Greece owes €400 billion to European countries,” he continued.