The Greek Prime Minister wanted to focus on Greek-Turkish issues, but the agenda had changed dramatically following the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani – ordered by Donald Trump. And that was evident in the media questions when the two leaders came on camera: Of the fourteen queries, only two concerned Greece, while nine had to do with the crisis in Iran and two more referred to the issues facing the American president.
Mitsotakis raised the issue of Turkish provocations
However, Mr Mitsotakis stated what he wanted to his interlocutor. He highlighted the problem with the Turkish provocations and the destabilizing role played by the recent Erdogan-Al-Saraj agreement on EEZ demarcation, even interrupting Donald Trump, to make it clear that we will not tolerate any dispute over Greek rights.
In other words, the Prime Minister, while denouncing the Turkey-Libya MoU in the midst of the difficult situation mentioned above, has succeeded in clarifying his intentions and key goals from the meeting, stressing that Greece expects US support. In his statements – as government sources have said – Mr Mitsotakis met with Donald Trump’s “understanding”.
Trump declined to comment on the Turkish challenges
Greece, however, did not receive a clear message of condemnation on the part of the US President, but neither was this expected. We should not forget that the only leader Donald Trump personally informed of Soleimani’s assassination was Tayyip Erdogan, while all other allies were briefed at the level of foreign ministers. In joint statements in the Oval Office before the crucial meeting of the two, the US President refrained from expressing his full support for Greece over Turkey, focusing on the “amazing” relations between Greece and the US and the improving Greek economy that is a “huge success”.
Neither did Donald Trump make a public statement on the F-35 issue, despite the fact that Kyriakos Mitsotakis has stressed that Greece is “very interested in participating in this and other defense programs”. After the meeting, however, it became known that the Greek side was committed to launching negotiations on acquiring a squadron of new F-35 fighters, the necessity of which is questioned by many in the Greek Armed Forces, as they are purely offensive aircraft that are not compatible with the Hellenic Air Force’s deterrent dogma.
“It has been confirmed that Greek-American relations have been at their best for decades. Donald Trump now has a clear picture of the geopolitical situation in our region and that Greece is part of the solution, not the problem, “commented Stelios Petsas, a government spokesman after the two leaders’ meeting. As for the F-35, he explained that they will be acquired after the F-16 upgrade is completed, so after 2024-25. “The negotiations will last one and a half years,” he noted.
Sharp response to main opposition SYRIZA
“We have seen again the ‘good’, old SYRIZA of slogans and irresponsibility indulging in a crescendo of pettiness,” government circles said in the meantime, responding to a statement from the main opposition that characterized the Mitsotakis – Trump meeting as a fiasco.