Turkey is “indispensable” for the United States, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell told Kathimerini on Dec. 15 in Washington, a day after a U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue meeting.
President Donald Trump’s key official on Greek-Turkish affairs and the Eastern Mediterranean defined Turkey as an indispensable ally for Washington. “Our relationship with Turkey is both difficult and critical. Turkey plays a key role in our operations against ISIS in the Middle East. Turkey is our NATO ally and the strategic position of İncirlik Air Base is also crucial for us,” he added, using another acronym for ISIL.
Mitchell also touched on ups and downs in relations between Washington and Ankara, saying, “We welcomed Pastor Andrew Brunson’s release. We also put pressure on Turks against their willingness to buy Russian S-400 air defense systems.”
He also regarded Greece, Cyprus and Israel as important allies in the region. “These three countries are very important for the U.S. because they are stable, democratic, and Western allies in a region where you don’t find a lot of stable, democratic partners,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell stressed that they do not see cooperation with Greece as an alternative to cooperation with Turkey. But he supported the Greek administration in South Cyprus’ bilateral hydrocarbon drilling efforts in the East Mediterranean. “Our line has been consistent. Cyprus is a sovereign country and just like any other sovereign country it has resources and can develop those resources,” Mitchell said.