By John Car – Athens, Greece
The Greek foreign minister, Nikos Dendias, was scheduled to meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday to seek Washington’s support in its struggle against Turkey’s oil exploration efforts off the coast of Crete.
Athens already has the fervent backing of France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, plus Israel and Egypt.
Officials in Athens on Friday hailed the establishment of diplomatic ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates as boosting the Greek position.
Greek naval units also continued to shadow a Turkish oil-prospecting ship, the Oruc Reis, in the East Mediterranean, west of Cyprus.
Athens claims the ship is infringing on Greece’s maritime economic zone, which it negotiated with Egypt just last week.
Greece’s Defense Ministry denied claims that a Greek frigate was damaged in a vaguely-defined incident at sea. Turkish frigates are escorting the Oruc Reis, raising the potential for a clash.
The Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has warned that Greece will not cede an inch of its maritime economic space. He says the Oruc Reis is in clear defiance of International maritime law.
Greek and French naval and air units have been war-gaming in the region over the past few days.
So far, Greece has been fighting purely on the diplomatic front. But whether the tussle with Turkey over seabed resources will result in actual shooting is impossible to predict at this point.