Prominent Members of Congress write to Secretary Pompeo asking him to demand from Turkey to stop provocations in East Med

Ο Δημοκρατικός γερουσιαστής από το Μέριλαντ Κρις βαν Χόλλεν. EPA, JIM LO SCALZO

New York: Greek News Online

On the eve of the meeting between the U.S. Secretary of State and the Greek Foreign Minister in Vienna, on August 14, at 4 pm local time, prominent members of the Senate and the House of Representatives wrote to Secretary Mike Pompeo and asked him to call on Turkey to withdraw survey ship Oruc Reis and the vessels that accompany it and stop the provocation in the EEZs of Greece and Cyprus.

The first letter was written by Democratic Senators Robert Menendez and Chris Van Hollen, who had spoken over the phone on Thursday with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

The second letter was signed by the Co-chairmen of the Congressional Hellenic Israel Alliance (CHIA) Ted Deutch (D, IL) and Gus Bilirakis (R, FL).

Meanwhile, the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) launched a campaign on Thursday, asking Greek – Americans and others to send letters to Secretary Pompeo.

Following the increased tensions in East Med, with Greek and Turkish navies facing each other and France to increase its military presence, the U,S. decided to finally increase its diplomatic moves. In addition the meeting of Dendias – Pompeo in Vienna, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale – who is travelling to Lebanon August 13-15 – will be in Cyprus on August 16 to meet with Republic of Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides.

According to a State Department announcement, “Hale will discuss America’s deepening security relationship with the Republic of Cyprus and continued American support for the UN-facilitated, Cypriot-led process to achieve a peaceful resolution to the division of Cyprus, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions and based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation.”


The Honorable Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

In advance of your meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias tomorrow in Vienna, we are writing with grave concern regarding Turkey’s provocative actions in the Eastern Mediterranean. Earlier this week, Turkey sent naval vessels to accompany a drilling ship into Greece’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to survey waters for oil and gas exploration. Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu has said that Ankara would issue new seismic exploration and drilling licenses by the end of August.

As you have previously stated, the United States “will not allow anyone, Turkey, to make unlawful drilling” and “we have told Turkey that actions in international waters are unacceptable and we will take diplomatic initiatives so that all actions that are to being taken are lawful.” In accordance with your prior statements, we ask you to call on Turkey to remove its ships from Greece’s EEZ and to resolve this matter in accordance with international law.

Second, we ask that you immediately begin to work with the European Union on a coordinated response to Turkey’s increasing provocations and illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean. The European Union has already imposed an entry ban and asset freeze on two Turkish energy executives and France recently deployed ships to the Eastern Mediterranean. The United States and the European Union should immediately develop a plan of comprehensive joint sanctions that would be imposed on key sectors of the Turkish economy if Turkey continues to pursue illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and refuses to resolve these matters through an impartial international tribunal.

Third, we reiterate our insistence that the administration follow the law and impose sanctions on Turkey under Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (P.L. 115-44). Under President Erdogan, Turkey has shirked its international obligations and moved away from the NATO Alliance. The administration’s failure to impose sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of the S-400, in accordance with the law, has emboldened President Erdogan’s aggression across the Eastern Mediterranean and throughout the Middle East.

The failure of the United States to act decisively at this critical time will only invite further Turkish escalation. Therefore, we urge you take all appropriate measures to ensure Turkey removes its naval vessels from Greece’s EEZ and adheres to its international obligations.


Robert Menendez Chris Van Hollen
United States Senator United States Senator


August 13, 2020

The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20230

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

As co-chairs of the Congressional Hellenic Israel Alliance caucus and co-authors of the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act (the “East Med Act”), we write to express our 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. We urge you to make it clear to the Erdogan government that continuing this course of action will further create challenges to regional cooperation and U.S.-Turkey relations.

A spirit of cooperation and collaboration has taken hold in the Eastern Mediterranean among US allies and strategic partners. 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, and is a development that helps safeguard American interests. That Turkey responds to such collaboration with threats and gun boat diplomacy is unacceptable.

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 U.S. interests.

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.





Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to meet with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias to discuss Turkey’s aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean. As has been reported this week, Turkey has sent a seismic survey vessel to an area between Greece and Cyprus, purporting to lay claim to what is clearly Greece’s continental shelf.

We need Secretary Pompeo to make clear that Turkey’s conduct is unacceptable. It is imperative that the State Department not send mixed signals. It must clearly and unequivocally draw a bright line: either Turkey stops its provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean or there will be negative consequences in its relationship with the United States.

Now is not the time for the United States to remain neutral. There is too much at stake — for Greece, for NATO, for regional stability.

Please use our easy, online tool to contact the State Department right now in advance of tomorrow’s critical meeting:

Thank you for taking action,

Endy D. Zemenides
Executive Director, HALC

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