New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
In a letter addressed to U.S. President Donald Trump, the President of the American Hellenic Institute Nick Larigakis asks for his personal involvement to send a strong message to Turkey that its ongoing provocations and threats of aggression against Greece and Cyprus are unacceptable and are not without repercussion from the United States.
Larigakis points out Turkish intensions to illegally drill in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the escalation of Turkish provocations in the Aegean.
AHI’s President urges the U.S. government to send an even stronger message to Turkey with targeted sanctions against the Turkish entities responsible for these recent threats.
“In addition, AHI strongly recommends your Administration oppose foreign assistance to Turkey, and any other assistance programs, including most-favored nation trade benefits”, the letter says.
The full text of the letter is as follows:
President Donald J. Trump
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Trump:
On behalf of the nationwide membership of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI), I write to urge your personal involvement to send a strong message to Turkey that its ongoing provocations and threats of aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean directed at NATO ally Greece, and strategic partner Republic of Cyprus, are unacceptable and are not without repercussion from the United States.
My visit to the region this month included meetings with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Greek Minister of Defense Evangelos Apostolakis, Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulidis, and Cypriot Minister of Defense Savvas Angelides. Each official conveyed an unprecedented level of grave concern regarding Turkish acts of provocation and hostility. Defense Minister Apostolakis expressed alarm about the escalation of actions by Turkish entities in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean.
Earlier this month, the Turkish government stated its intention to drill in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which would be a violation of Cyprus’ sovereignty and international law. In fact, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades termed Turkey’s bid to drill a “second invasion.” Turkey’s threat was met with statements of deep “concern” by the Department of State and European Union as well as bipartisan outcries from members of Congress. Although AHI welcomes the international community’s expressed concern, these denouncements do not appear to be effective. Turkey only seems to be more emboldened. Turkey is holding its largest naval exercise with warships and aircraft off the Cypriot coast and will be sending a second drill ship, “Yavuz,” to the area; all of which is occurring concurrently with Turkish violations of Greek airspace.
The U.S. has important strategic interests in southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. Significant commerce and energy sources transit through this vital region. It is in the United States’ best interest for the region to be politically, economically and socially stable, and for democratic principles to flourish, including adherence to the rule of law. Greece is a pivotal and dependable NATO ally in advancing these interests and a frontline state against terrorism. Cyprus is a strategic partner in the Eastern Mediterranean and the United States recognizes the Republic of Cyprus’ right to develop resources in its exclusive economic zone.
Therefore, with the best interests of the United States in mind, AHI urges the U.S. government to send an even stronger message to Turkey with targeted sanctions against the Turkish entities responsible for these recent threats. In addition, AHI strongly recommends your Administration oppose foreign assistance to Turkey, and any other assistance programs, including most-favored nation trade benefits.
Mr. President, Turkey is a significant force of instability and a failed U.S. ally. Its $2.5 billion deal to acquire four divisions of S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia acts as a testament. Turkey’s aggressive and provocative actions are egregious and dangerous. The United States must act to uphold the rule of law and urge Turkey, the provocateur of these tensions, to cease and desist with its hostile actions that are a threat to peace and stability and are not in the best interests of the United States.