US Official: Turkey’s Actions in East Mediterranean Are Provocative, Unhelpful, and Raise Tensions

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On Wednesday, the Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Ambassador Philip T. Reeker, criticized Turkey’s policy in the Eastern Mediterranean. He expressed his concerns that Ankara’s activities threatened the unity of NATO.

In a statement, Reeker said that the United States has repeatedly conveyed to Turkey that its overflights of Greek territory, its drilling activities in the waters off Cyprus, its signing of a maritime delimitation MoU with Libya, and its stated intent to explore for hydrocarbons on the basis of that MoU were “provocative, unhelpful, and raised tensions in the region.”

He added that the US continues to object strenuously to Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missiles. He pointed out to the suspension and pending removal of Turkey from the F-35 program, which comes in response to the S-400 acquisition. He also voiced his deep concern with reports that Turkey is continuing its efforts to bring the S-400 into operation. “We have stressed that the S-400 issue remains a major obstacle in the bilateral relationship, and at NATO”, he said.

Reeker noted that the US sanctions on Turkish individuals and entities following Turkey’s October 2019 incursion into northeast Syria, laid the groundwork for a negotiated ceasefire that remains in place.