US Senators and co-chairs of the Congressional Hellenic Israel Alliance Ted Deutch and Gus Bilirakis have urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to make it clear to the Erdogan government that Turkey must cease its provocations in the region and the Oruc Reis and its armed escort must return home.
In a letter they sent Pompeo yesterday, the two Senators express their concerns “over Turkey’s latest provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
“By sending the survey ship Oruc Reis with armed escort into areas over which Greece and Cyprus assert jurisdiction, Turkey risks an escalation that endangers American strategic interests,” they note.
Bilirakis and Deutch urge Pompeo “to make it clear to the Erdogan government that continuing this course of action will further create challenges to regional cooperation and US-Turkey relations”.
“A spirit of cooperation and collaboration has taken hold in the Eastern Mediterranean among US allies and strategic partners,” their letter reads.
According to the two Senators “the diplomatic momentum created when Israel, Greece, and Cyprus began their trilateral meetings has turned into a much larger regional effort. That this collaboration now also includes France, Egypt, the UAE, Italy, and Jordan, is a development that helps safeguard American interests”.
“That Turkey responds to such collaboration with threats and gun boat diplomacy is unacceptable”, they add.
They recall that in the East Med Act, we called attention to long time Turkish provocations in the region, and specifically to its efforts “to interfere in efforts by the Republic of Cyprus to explore and exploit natural resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone” and its “violations of the airspace of the sovereign territory of Greece”.
“These provocations have only become more severe since this law expressed both the opinion of Congress and the Administration that they are threats to US interests”, they point out.
“We urge you to be clear that Turkey must cease its provocations in the region and the Oruc Reis and its armed escort must return home. Our Caucus and many other colleagues in Congress stand ready to assist in efforts to safeguard American interests, allies, and partners”, their letter to Pompeo concludes.