Greece and United Arab Emirates (UAE) today signed a foreign policy and defense agreement which has angered their common foe, Turkey.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. They signed a “strategic partnership” and an “agreement on joint foreign policy and defense cooperation,” the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet. “Relations are further deepened reaching a strategic level, aiming at regional peace & stability,” it added.
“Our two countries are facing challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean through the same perspective. They remain committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes and to respect for international law. I would also like to emphasize that this visit to the United Arab Emirates is another step in the context of the active foreign policy that our country has been developing over the last year,” Mitsotakis said.
A joint statement issued after the visit said, “The two governments condemn Turkey’s violation of the sovereignty and sovereign rights of the Hellenic Republic and the Republic of Cyprus, as well as its overall aggressive behavior in the Middle East, the Southeastern Mediterranean and the South Caucasus, in flagrant violation of the International while recalling the obligation of all states to refrain from the threat or use of force as provided for in the Charter of the United Nations.”
Turkish president Erdogan responded to the joint statement calling the countries an “alliance of evil.” “Until the end, we will continue to defend our interests and rights in the Mediterranean Aegean Sea, in Cyprus,” he said in comments quoted in the Turkish media.
In recent days, Turkey has redeployed its energy exploration vessel in the disputed Aegean sea. According to Turkish media reports, two navy ships are guarding the vessel in the sea. The UAE air force flew four of its F-16s to Crete last month to exercise with the Hellenic Air Force in a move seen as a US backed attempt to send a message to Turkey. Speculation was also rife that the UAE could be looking for a buyer for its F-16s following the US approval of F-35 jets to the UAE.
However, Greece has since put in a request to buy used F-35s jets from the US. It is not clear if the US has any used F-35s for sale. Washington has maintained that for new customers wanting F-16s, they must first buy F-16V jets and move up to the F-35s later. The UAE’s F-16 “desert falcons” are the Block 60/61 type and considered nearly on par with the Block 70/72 F-16V jets.
Commenting on the agreement, Greek news website, Pentapostagma reported that while the provisions of the agreement aren’t directed against any third party, it is essentially aimed “to destabilizing Turkey”.
In May, Greece, the UAE, Cyprus, Egypt and France issued a joint statement “denounced the ongoing illegal Turkish activities in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone and its territorial waters, as they represent a manifest violation of international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Right to the sea.“