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Mike Pompeo: We Want Stability in the Balkans, It is a Region "Full of Challenges"

In an interview with Kathimerini, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed concern about tensions in the Aegean. He stressed that the US wants stability in the Balkans because the region is "full of challenges".

The new defense agreement signed between Athens and Washington will contribute to Greece's security, said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

He hoped that Greece and Turkey would resolve their differences peacefully. Regarding Turkey's violation of Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Pompeo said it was "recognized international waters" that every nation must respect.

Asked what would happen if Turkey breached the sector in which US companies have interests, Pompeo said it was a hypothetical scenario, but stressed that the US was always doing everything it could to protect its interests.

Pompeo also noted that the US has returned to the Balkan region: "And when I say we are back, it is because it is in America's interest to engage. Nations always act to take care of themselves and their interests. Greece is doing the same for its people. We have many strategic goals and what you saw today during my trip to Greece is that we have a new defense co-operation agreement that will make a difference. It won't only matter tomorrow, next week, it will also matter in the years and decades to come. "

Pompeo was also asked that during the Cold War the enemy was clear, but who the enemy is now and what the US military bases will be used for.

"NATO has set itself a strategic mission, the United States has its own national security strategy, I am sure Greece has a deep understanding of the things that potentially threaten it, but make no mistake: the Soviet Union does not have it, but Russia's malignant influence continues. In the Middle East - not too far away - there are difficult challenges, the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to sponsor terror around the world, the challenges to freedom of navigation abound in the waters of which Greece depends so heavily on shipping and transport, and these are the things that nations like Greece and nations like the United States depend on, have access to these waterways and so, have a capable military force, have a deterrent force that reminds everyone that they have to engage in behaviors that are in line with the law, I think this is a absolutely imperative and you do not know where the next threat will come from. We look outward and think we are smart and we see them all, but the truth is that history is full of days that you didn't think someone was an adversary and it turns out you have to be ready. "

Asked what the US could do to prevent Turkey from becoming an even more unpredictable ally, Pompeo replied that Washington was doing everything it could to prevent such developments.

"It is an important trading partner for us. They are obviously an ally in NATO, where we have an important infrastructure. We have important political goals - you are well aware of the risk of refugees coming from Turkey, Syria or the region. So, a successful Turkey, a growing, prosperous, economically prosperous Turkey, is important not only for Greece, but for all of us. So we are working hard to try to achieve this set of results. "

The US Secretary of State also expressed hope that there will be no competition between Greece and Turkey in terms of military installations.

"I hope they don't compete that way, I don't think about it that way. I don't think our military thinks so either. We see that each has its own unique set of characteristics, its own unique opportunity to deliver good results for NATO and the host countries as well as the United States.''

The United States is using diplomatic efforts to influence Turkey because of Ankara's actions in the waters around Cyprus.

"I hope that not only international law will be respected, but I think every country must recognize that America always does what it has to do to protect its commercial interests and protect its own people, so we will we do everything we can to do this and there is no reason to think that there will be anything different here. "

Pompeo has expressed concern over tensions between Greece and Turkey over what is happening in the Aegean Sea:

"We are always worried when there is tension between some two countries that can escalate, turn into a bad place and create a military confrontation. Nobody wants this to happen. So I do not want this to happen between Greece and Turkey. I do not want this to happen between North and South Korea. To no place. Our diplomats are trying every day to create conditions where the parties can speak and engage in dialogue and resolve their disputes peacefully. We are optimistic that this can happen.''

The Greek-US defense agreement signed yesterday "certainly provides better security not only for Greece, but also for the Balkans, for the region, and frankly, we believe it creates stable situations that reduce the risk to America - American business, traveling Americans to Greece. So America has a deep interest in ensuring that Greece is safe and secure'', Pompeo said.


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