Greek-American politicians and organizations expressed their frustration for the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Washington earlier in the week.
Dozens joined a demonstration with Armenian and Kurdish groups to express their disapproval of Turkish policies in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East and urge President Trump to force Erdogan to adhere by international law and democratic standards.
In a statement to Greek Reporter Congressman Gus Bilirakis expressed his “disappointment” at the visit.
“The actions his dictatorial regime have taken—the offensive into Northern Syria, the systematic denial of its citizens’ basic human rights, the continued occupation of Cyprus, the illegal drilling in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), nearly daily infringements of Greek airspace, infringement on the religious and property rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the prosecution of journalists and academics for writing about the Armenian Genocide—are wholly unacceptable from a U.S. ally, so-called secular democracy, and a NATO member state,” Bilirakis said and he added:
“As co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues and the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance, I will continue to advocate for bills like H.R. 4695, the Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act (PACT) Act, and H.Res. 296, affirming the Armenian Genocide, that will reinforce Turkish compliance with international law, American values, peace and stability, and basic human rights.”
AHEPA’s Supreme President George Horiates said that his organization “Proudly joined with others to send a clear message that Mr. Erdogan is not welcome here and his authoritarianism is not worthy to be dignified with a visit to the White House.”
“Instead, Turkey must be held responsible for its countless illegal activities and violations of international law and human rights. We were here today to make a stand in defense of Hellenic principles and to uphold American values and interests.”
He added, “It’s further clear Congress must act to hold Turkey accountable.”
Endy Zemenides, Executive Director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), said that “Erdogan should not have been invited at this time, as has increasingly and consistently become adverse to both American interests and values.”
Since Erdogan did come, President Trump could have confronted him about the above issues and much more, Zemenides said.
“But the US came up empty handed. Erdogan came away with his photo op, with a declaration of President Trump being a “big fan” and a pause on the Senate’s consideration of the Armenian Genocide resolution. All this on top of the betrayal of the Kurds which has been under way for weeks. Not a single priority issue was resolved for the United States, nor was a clear timeline laid out for any such resolution.”
Zemenides warned that “while Hellenic issues were not directly on the agenda during this visit, the appetite of the US to hold Turkey accountable and to commit to deterring its worst behavior and impulses was put further into question this week.
“This will invariably affect strategic considerations in Athens and elsewhere, as Turkey may have come away from the White House this week with the impression that the Trump Administration will give Erdogan lots of leeway in the region,” Zemenides added.
The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) took “tremendous exception with President Donald J. Trump’s description of Turkey as ‘…a great NATO Ally, and a strategic partner of the United States around the world’ and President Trump’s praise of President Erdogan, stating, ‘I’m a big fan of the President’.”
“Mr. Erdogan is an authoritarian leader who has purged academics, judges, and political and military opponents and jailed more journalists than any other country in the world, including North Korea. Turkey is a threat to the security of United States allies, such as Greece and Israel, and strategic partners, such as the Republic of Cyprus,” AHI said.
“The United States’ policy toward Turkey must not be one of appeasement. Appeasement will only serve to embolden Mr. Erdogan further. However, it is evident appeasement is President Trump’s policy of choice on Turkey—from President Trump’s invitation to Mr. Erdogan, to the language that praised Mr. Erdogan during the press conference, to the absence of any announced consequences for Turkey’s laundry list of violations of the rule of law.”