Greek FM calls on Washington to protect Cyprus’ rights during U.S. visit

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, in meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell on Monday, called for the United States to protect Cyprus from Turkey’s aggression, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported.

The Greek foreign minister discussed the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East with both Pompeo and Mitchell, and “underlined the necessity to safeguard security and stability in the region,” the daily said.

The search for potentially rich gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has fuelled tensions between Turkey, Cyprus and Egypt due to disputes over maritime jurisdiction and political rivalries.

“I referred in depth to Turkey’s behavior and the need to support the Republic of Cyprus and its rights internationally, because Cyprus should not be regarded as just a ‘problem’ of the UN but as a sovereign state with specific roles and potential in the region,” the daily quoted Kotzias as saying.

Turkey says exploration off Cyprus cannot go ahead without the involvement of Turkish Cypriots in the northern third of the island that Turkish troops invaded in 1974.

The daily quoted U.S. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert, who said that Pompeo and Kotzias “agreed to establish a US-Greek Strategic Dialogue on key areas of cooperation.”

“The Secretary commended Greece for its leadership role in the region, including efforts to address challenges in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean,” Kathimerini quoted Nauert as saying.