Members of Congress Ask Pompeo to Report on Turkey’s Aggressive Actions

Capitol Hill. Credit: Martin Falbisoner/Wikimedia commons

Τhe Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues and Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance, wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier in the week to report on the Administration’s monitoring of violations by Turkey of the sovereign territory of Greece and Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

The caucus is represented by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), and Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD).

In their letter Pompeo is requested to report, as required by the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act, on Turkey’s illegal, provocative behavior in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The members write, “Turkey’s aggressive actions – most notably its illegal and repeated violations of Greek and Cypriot sovereignty in pursuit of drilling for natural gas – in the region over the past few months have raised tensions to dangerously high levels. Greece, a crucial U.S. ally in the region, has had to rapidly mobilize its armed forces in response to threats from Turkey, raising the troubling prospect of a conflict between NATO-member countries in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey’s continued provocations in Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone only heightens the prospects of an EU-Turkey confrontation.

“We are extremely concerned about these tensions, and believe it is necessary that the U.S. make clear to all involved that it is paying close attention to the situation. Fortunately, the reports required by the Act give us the mechanism to do so.”

Full text of the letter is below.

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

We are grateful that the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act (“the Act”) was signed into law on December 20, 2019 by President Trump as part of H.R.1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act. The legislation strengthens the United States’ strategic relationships with key allies Greece and Cyprus by promoting increased economic, security, and energy cooperation and holds Turkey accountable for its increasingly aggressive behavior in the region. Developments in the Eastern Mediterranean over the last several months have proven that a comprehensive U.S. strategy in the region is more important than ever. As leaders of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues and the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance, we take very seriously the relationship between U.S. and Greece and Cyprus, and are closely monitoring the implementation of this important legislation.

We are pleased to see the Department of State executing some provisions of the Act, most recently its announcement on establishing the International Military Training and Education (IMET) program with the Republic of Cyprus. However, there are additional provisions under the Act that are mandated by law and require urgent and full attention.

The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act requires the Department of State to submit multiple, unclassified reports to Congress no later than 90 days after the date of enactment. Specifically, two of the reports required by the Act are:

(a) a report listing incidents since January 1, 2017, determined by the Secretary of State to interfere in efforts by the Republic of Cyprus to explore and exploit natural resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone; and

(b) a report listing incidents since January 1, 2017, determined by the Secretary of State to be violations of the airspace of the sovereign territory of Greece by its neighbors.

Turkey’s aggressive actions – most notably its illegal and repeated violations of Greek and Cypriot sovereignty in pursuit of drilling for natural gas – in the region over the past few months have raised tensions to dangerously high levels. Greece, a crucial U.S. ally in the region, has had to rapidly mobilize its armed forces in response to threats from Turkey, raising the troubling prospect of a conflict between NATO-member countries in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey’s continued provocations in Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone only heightens the prospects of an EU-Turkey confrontation.

We are extremely concerned about these tensions, and believe it is necessary that the U.S. make clear to all involved that it is paying close attention to the situation. Fortunately, the reports required by the Act give us the mechanism to do so.

We request an update as to the status of the reports required by the Act to be submitted to Congress. We would also ask that the update make clear if the reports or portions of reports will be classified or available to the public. We appreciate your timely response to this request.