US Ambassador to Turkey Jeffry Flake has said his country’s security cooperation with NATO allies Turkey and Greece does not come from a position of partiality or imbalance towards any single partner, adding that there has been no shift in the US security posture in the Aegean.
Turkey and Greece — NATO allies but historic foes — have been at odds for decades over a range of issues, including where their continental shelves start and end, overflights in the Aegean Sea and a divided Cyprus.
Flake on Tuesday released a written statement in reply to a question he was recently asked, underlining that the US stance on the two countries’ long-standing disputes over the Aegean Sea, which is based on impartiality, had not changed.
Statement by #AmbassadorFlake: pic.twitter.com/KA5PeRJjGP
— U.S. Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) October 18, 2022
“Our collective efforts are now focused on putting an end to Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war in Ukraine. Turkey continues to provide valuable support, notably advancing food security and fostering dialogue between Ukraine and Russia. Our defense cooperation with Greece strengthens NATO’s eastern flank in support of Ukraine and of our NATO allies in Central and Eastern Europe,” Flake said.
The ambassador added their overriding objective, shared with their NATO allies Turkey and Greece, was “peace, security and stability throughout the region.”
Last month the European Union voiced concern over statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accusing Greece, an EU member, of occupying demilitarized islands in the Aegean and saying Turkey was ready to “do what is necessary” when the time came.
Turkey said Greece had used a Russian-made air defense system to harass Turkish jets and is stationing troops on islands in the Aegean Sea in violation of peace treaties.
Greece rejects the allegations and often accuses Turkey of raising tensions, including through overflights of Greek islands.
In late September the US State Department said that at a time when Russia has invaded Ukraine, NATO allies should avoid statements or actions that could escalate tensions, referring to rising tensions between Turkey and Greece.