U.S. Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden issued a statement on Monday voicing support for de-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean while urging President Donald Trump’s administration to press Turkey on its “provocative actions” in the region.
“The Trump administration must press Turkey to refrain from any further provocative actions in the region against Greece, including threats of force, to create the space for diplomacy to succeed,” Biden said in the statement. “I also call on Turkish President Erdogan to reverse his recent decision to convert the Hagia Sophia to a mosque and to return this treasure to its former status as a museum, ensuring equal access for all, including the Orthodox faithful.”
Biden’s announcement comes four days after the European Union warned Turkey to stop its “provocations and pressures” in the Eastern Mediterranean or face sanctions.
The vice president added: “I support the efforts of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and our European allies, as well as the United States, to defuse tensions in the eastern Mediterranean and avoid a conflict from emerging within NATO. Disagreements in the region should be resolved peacefully, and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected and protected.”
“The agreement to establish a military deconfliction mechanism and the resumption of diplomatic talks between Greece and Turkey are welcome steps in the right direction. I also applaud Congressional action to finally end the counterproductive embargo on nonlethal security assistance for Cyprus, which is a strategic partner for the United States.”
Featured image: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks after receiving the Athenagoras Human Rights Award from the Order of St. Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in New York City on October 17, 2015. (Credit / Darren Ornitz—Reuters)
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