Tsipras: Greece a Buffer to Unreliable Ally Turkey
By John Gizzi
Following the first meeting of U.S. President Donald Trump and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Tuesday at the White House, Tsipras and Trump showed signs of having an excellent working and personal relationship.
“The two leaders may come from very different backgrounds, but their cooperation is a strategic choice — one that can help both countries’ interests in the troubled region of the eastern Mediterranean,” Katerina Sokou, Washington, D.C. correspondent for the Greek publication Kathemerini, told Newsmax.
Greek government sources told Newsmax that Trump and Tsipras got along well in their private meetings and that the prime minister found the president “very smart, very direct, and he had a lot of questions about Greece.”
Speaking to a small group of reporters at Blair House late Tuesday after noon, Tsipras said his sessions with Trump were “very constructive” and that the president considered Greece “one of the more reliable allies” of the U.S.
At the same session, the prime minister told how his country lost one-quarter of its gross domestic product and more than 1 million jobs since its crippling debt crisis began in 2010.
“But our message to the international community now is that Greece is back,” said Tsipras, emphasizing that Greece has gained 400,000 new jobs in the last year and will almost certainly resolve its debts to the International Monetary Fund next year. Growth in Greece, he added, was 2 percent in 2017.
Tsipras also said that tourism continues to flourish, that “investments — especially from the United States — have helped,” and “and any discussion that we will somehow leave the Euro [currency] is behind us. Greece will remain the Eurozone.”
Because of what Tsipras called “the unique advantage of our location,” Greece can be a hub for investment in transportation, energy, and new technologies. He also said that the rebound of the Aegean nation from its crippling debt — which reached 323 billion euros in 2015 — demonstrates to the world that “Greece will be a pillar of stability” for investors.
But Greece’s increased role as a player in Europe, Kathemerini’s Sokou told me, “Also comes as a result of the vacuum created by an increasingly unreliable ally in Erdogan’s Turkey.”
Sources in the Greek government told us that Tsipras considers Turkish President Erdogan “very unpredictable” and that he is pleased the Trump Administration is increasing its cooperation with Athens by upgrading its naval base at Souda Bay in Crete. In Greece, currently the U.S. maintains 15 U.S. Air Force bases, 9 U.S. Navy bases, and six U.S. Army bases, and shows no signs of closing any of them.
By maintaining the U.S. presence in Turkey and continuing to work closely with Tsipras, the same Greek government sources told me, the Trump administration can help keep Turkey cooperating with NATO and the European Union.
Seven years after its economy was completely devastated, Greece shows strong signs of a recovery and the nation could be a key ally in Europe as well as a player on the national security front.