US supports Greece despite Turkey’s calls for neutrality in East Med tension

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The U.S. has been increasingly voicing support for Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration while engaging in frequent contact with the two Eastern Mediterranean countries, ignoring Turkey’s calls for neutrality.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Greece and one of its naval bases on the island of Crete next week in a show of support, overlooking Turkey’s recent calls for Washington to return to its position of neutrality on tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In Greece, Pompeo will meet with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias “to renew our shared commitment to advance security, peace and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean and celebrate the strongest U.S.-Greek relationship in decades,” department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

He will also travel to Souda Bay on the Greek island of Crete. There he will visit the U.S. naval facility “to underscore the strong U.S. security partnership with NATO Ally Greece,” Ortagus said.

Athens and Washington carried out military drills in the region on July 24-28, a move that U.S. Capt. Zoah Scheneman said, “Flexed our ability to be postured with our NATO partners to be ready with credible force to assure, deter and defend our interests in an increasingly complex security environment.”

Earlier this month, Pompeo discussed Eastern Mediterranean tensions during a visit to the south side of Cyprus. He conveyed messages encouraging cooperation even after the U.S. lifted a decadeslong arms embargo on the Greek Cypriot administration, a move Turkey said was disrupting “equality and balance” between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities on the ethnically divided island nation.

“We think that taking steps that damage the neutral position of the U.S. will not benefit the peace in the region,” ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) spokesperson Ömer Çelik said late Tuesday after a Central Decision and Executive Board meeting at party headquarters in the capital Ankara.

There has been increased friction between Turkey and its Eastern Mediterranean neighbors, Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, over offshore energy explorations rights in the past few months. Turkey, the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean, has sent drillships with a military escort to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also have rights in the region.

But the tone has recently softened between Ankara and Athens, with the two agreeing Tuesday to begin exploratory talks on their dispute.

NATO welcomes talks

The two countries have also engaged in NATO-led talks to discuss deconfliction mechanisms in the Eastern Mediterranean. The fifth round of talks took place last week while the next is expected to be held next week. The talks aim to reduce the risk of incidents and accidents in the region.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Mitsotakis on Thursday discussed the recent developments in the region.

“As part of his regular consultations with Greek and Turkish leaders, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke by telephone with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday about the Eastern Mediterranean,” a NATO statement said.

“The Secretary-General welcomed the recent announcement that Greece and Turkey will hold exploratory diplomatic talks. He stressed the importance of resolving the situation in a spirit of Allied solidarity and in accordance with international law,” it added.

The upcoming exploratory talks will be the 61st of their kind, as the two countries started to hold exploratory talks on problems in the Eastern Mediterranean on March 12, 2002, with an aim to come up with a fair, sustainable and inclusive solution.

These talks continued regularly up until 2016. However, since then there have not been any new rounds, both due to the political conjecture and the Greek side’s reluctance.

Turkey has demanded that the array of disagreements it has with Greece be handled as a whole. Those include territorial waters in the Eastern Mediterranean, the continental shelf, demilitarization of the islands, the legal status of geographical formations, the width of national air space and search and rescue operations.

Greek Cypriots committed to peace talks

The Greek Cypriot administration is committed to peace talks with the TRNC but not at gunpoint, Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades said Thursday regarding a dispute which has deepened Greece-Turkey tensions and stymied European Union policymaking on Belarus.

“For the (Cyprus peace) talks to resume with realistic prospects for success, it is imperative to create an environment which will be conducive for constructive and good faith negotiations … not under conditions of intimidation or threats,” Anastasiades said in an address to the United Nations General Assembly.

A simmering decades-old conflict that split the East Mediterranean island’s Greek and Turkish inhabitants has come full circle with the issue featured prominently in disputes between NATO allies Greece and Turkey, which are now holding up EU plans to impose sanctions on Belarus, as some members call for the bloc to impose similar measures on Turkey.

The Greek Cypriot administration’s stance has drawn criticism from some EU countries, which say it amounts to protecting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who is accused of rigging elections and using force to quell peaceful protests, while the delay has upset plans for coordinated Western action.

Anastasiades stated that his administration was willing to place any revenues from gas exploration into an escrow account for the Turkish Cypriot community.

EU leaders will look for ways to defuse tensions at a summit on Oct. 1-2.

Turkey last week voiced that there exists no common ground and vision for a settlement between the two sides on the island. All past negotiation processes have failed due to the fact that the Greek Cypriot administration has not accepted the political equality, which is a requirement for a partnership on the island, and that this could not be defined in a concrete way, a Foreign Ministry statement said. The statement cited the underlying reason as the Greek Cypriots’ unwillingness to share both power and natural resources with the Turkish Cypriots.

The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup took place after decades of violence against the island’s Turkish community and Ankara’s intervention as a guarantor power. The TRNC was established in 1983 on the northern tier of the island and is only recognized by Turkey. The country faces a longstanding embargo on commerce, transportation and culture.

Cyprus has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the latest initiative in Crans Montana, Switzerland, under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K., but the process collapsed in 2017.

H.E. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov President of Turkmenistan

During his speech at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, the President of Turkmenistan stressed the importance of restoring trust in international politics
On September 22, 2020, the high-level week of the 75th anniversary session of the United Nations General Assembly began. On the same day, a transmission of the speech of the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov took place.

Noting that the current session of the UN General Assembly is being held in a difficult period, the Head of Turkmenistan called for an objective look at the general international situation, shattered by the neglect of international law, military and political rivalry, which, unfortunately, is observed in the world today.
To resolve this situation, the Head of State noted “that it is necessary to consolidate efforts aimed at strengthening the role of international law, multilateral legal instruments of the existing system of global security, strict observance by all countries of generally recognized norms arising from the UN Charter. This is the only way to maintain stability and predictability in world politics, to reduce the risks of conflicts. ”

The President of Turkmenistan emphasized that in order to achieve these goals, it is necessary to restore trust in international politics, to establish a culture of respectful dialogue.

In this regard, the important role of the policy of permanent Neutrality of Turkmenistan was underlined. As a matter of fact, its keystones contain the principles of humanism and peaceful approach to the resolution of global challenges and response to the threats of modern times. As is known, this year Turkmenistan honors the 25th anniversary since obtaining the given status. The model of positive neutrality developed by Turkmenistan calls not for impartiality, but unity by means of political-diplomatic tools. This concept is vividly presented in the project of the resolution initiated by Turkmenistan entitled “the Role and Significance of the Neutrality Policy in Sustaining and Strengthening International Peace, Security and Sustainable Development,” the presentation of which was held in January of current year in the UN headquarters. The draft of the resolution is under consideration.

Then, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov added that “the UN General Assembly, at the initiative of Turkmenistan, adopted a resolution declaring 2021 the Year of International Peace and Confidence. In the light of the implementation of the provisions of this document, Turkmenistan sets forth the initiative to hold an International Forum of Peace and Trust next year. The leader of Turkmenistan expressed confidence that this Forum will give an important impetus to the promotion of peace, stability and will contribute to the strengthening of international cooperation.

In this context, the important role of preventive diplomacy was noted, which is consonant with the UN principles. Noting that the policy of Neutrality is aimed at ensuring regional peace, security and development, the President of Turkmenistan stressed that within the framework of the upcoming session, the Turkmen side intends to propose to the General Assembly to consider the draft resolution “The Role of the Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia.”
The Head of State noted that the achievement of peace, security and progress in the Central Asian region depends on the settlement of the situation in Afghanistan. “The position of Turkmenistan here is principled and unchanged: there is no alternative to the negotiation process,” the President noted. In this regard, it was noted that Turkmenistan is ready to assist in the advancement of this process, in particular, by creating the necessary political and organizational conditions on its territory.

Along with political stabilization, the economic and social reconstruction of Afghanistan is also important. In this regard, Turkmenistan stands for the implementation of large infrastructure projects with Afghan participation, primarily in such important areas as energy, transport and communications. Turkmenistan has already initiated a number of projects in this direction, in particular the construction of a gas pipeline along the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India route, railway branches, and fiber-optic communication lines reaching the territory of Afghanistan.
The President of Turkmenistan stressed that Turkmenistan firmly believes in the future of the UN, will continue to strengthen and build up strategic partnership with this Organization for the benefit of all mankind.

CONFERENCE OF THE PEOPLE’S COUNCIL OF TURKMENISTAN WAS HELD AT THE HIGH ORGANIZATIONAL LEVEL

On the 25th of September 2020, the utmost nation-wide assembly of Turkmenistan – the meeting of the People’s Council of Turkmenistan was held. In view of the world epidemiological situation, the participants of the People’s Council of Turkmenistan located in the other regions of the country took part in the session which was organized in Ashgabat through videoconferencing.

The successive session of the People’s Council of Turkmenistan chaired by the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was attended by the Chairperson of Mejlis (Parliament), Deputy Chairmen of the Cabinet of Ministers, heads of the ministries and profile agencies, members of public organizations, elders, representatives of various sectors, students and representatives of the mass media.

Being the highest representative body of the public authority, the People’s Council (Halk Maslahaty) provides for the application of the experience of Turkmen people in the area of state formation accumulated during the centuries-old history and participation of extensive groups of population in the adoption of significant public and political resolutions leading consequently towards realizing conceptual ideas and unity. This is based on such noble traditions of ancestors as holding nation-wide assemblies, during which the authorized representatives of communities made decisions on the most vital political, economic and military issues while generally accepted democratic principles were observed.

The successive session of the People’ Council of Turkmenistan had a rich agenda. During the meeting, the key vectors of successful implementation of historic and long-term programs in the new development period of the independent and permanently neutral Turkmenistan, as well as the subjects related to socio-economic growth of the state in 2021 were considered.

Besides, the constitutional reforms aimed at the development of work of the representative bodies in the area of legislative power were regarded. The corresponding documents of the People’s Council were adopted.

The historic address of the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov took place. The Head of State noted that in the result of the work done, the social conditions corresponding to the world standards are created for the population. These achievements were attained due to the friendship, hard work and high spirituality of the people.

During the successive session of the People’s Council of Turkmenistan, it was also comprehensively spoken about the constitutional reforms which serve as a proof of adherence to democratic norms and international cooperation conditioned by the achievements of the society.
The People’s Council joined the system of state institutions performing functions in the field of legislation. Thus, on the way to the creation of a bicameral system of a representative legislative institution of state government, a proposal was voiced to establish the National Council of Turkmenistan, and its Chambers to be named as the Halk Maslahaty (People’s Council) and the Mejlis. This proposal was unanimously adopted.

During a regular meeting of the People’s Council, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov signed the Constitutional Law of the meeting of the People’s Council of Turkmenistan “On Amendments and Additions to the Constitution of Turkmenistan.”

The implementation of constitutional reforms is aimed at ensuring a prosperous and happy life for the Turkmen people and is one of the important steps towards further democratization of the state.

Starting from the first days of its sovereign development, Turkmenistan proclaimed the neutrality of the state, taking into account national and international interests in world politics, and strictly adhering to the principles of good neighborliness, mutual respect and equality, implements a foreign policy aimed at maintaining global peace, security and prosperity.

The need to strengthen multilateral cooperation of Turkmenistan with such authoritative international organizations as the United Nations, the European Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation was especially noted. Strengthening ties with the countries of Asia and the Pacific region, states of the Near and Middle East, the European and American continents was also noted among the priority tasks of the country.

The President also stressed the importance of strategic cooperation between Turkmenistan and the United Nations. In this context, it was noted that the country’s initiatives put forward in the field of water, energy and transport diplomacy are supported by the world community and contribute to strengthening the international authority of Turkmenistan. The head of the Turkmen state stated that the proclamation, on the initiative of Turkmenistan, of 2021 as the International Year of Peace and Trust, in accordance with the Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, in turn, demonstrates to the whole world the country’s efforts aimed at establishing universal peace and friendship, and this, became another historic milestone in strengthening the importance of the neutral status of the state.
President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted that the acquisition of the observer status in the World Trade Organization by Turkmenistan will ensure the coordinated development of the national economy, strengthening its position in foreign trade relations, intensifying multilateral cooperation, including actively attracting foreign capital.

In view of the global situation, ensuring environmental safety in the Aral Sea basin also became a separate topic on the agenda of the meeting.
The President of Turkmenistan also stated that the spread in 2020 of a particularly dangerous disease – a new type of coronavirus, adversely affected the economies of the countries of the world, and, despite the ongoing difficult socio-economic situation on a global scale, the country’s economy maintained its stable development.
In Turkmenistan, more than 70 percent of the state budget is directed to the social sphere. In this context, in his speech, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted that as part of the implementation of the “Program of socio-economic development of the country for 2019-2025”, a huge work is being done in all areas of the national economy. In particular, work is underway to comprehensively develop the national education system, increase the range of import-substituting products, expand the indicator of national energy products in the world market, widely introduce innovative technologies in all spheres of the economy, increase the export of textile goods, and create competitive macro structural transport and logistics systems. In this direction, other significant tasks have been identified for the development of priority sectors of the economy.

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