The Greek Prime Minister wanted to focus on Greek-Turkish issues, but the agenda had changed dramatically following the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani - ordered by Donald Trump. And that was evident in the media questions when the two leaders came on camera: Of the fourteen queries, only two concerned Greece, while nine had to do with the crisis in Iran and two more referred to the issues facing the American president.
Mitsotakis raised the issue of Turkish provocations
However, Mr Mitsotakis stated what he wanted to his interlocutor. He highlighted the problem with the Turkish provocations and the destabilizing role played by the recent Erdogan-Al-Saraj agreement on EEZ demarcation, even interrupting Donald Trump, to make it clear that we will not tolerate any dispute over Greek rights.
In other words, the Prime Minister, while denouncing the Turkey-Libya MoU in the midst of the difficult situation mentioned above, has succeeded in clarifying his intentions and key goals from the meeting, stressing that Greece expects US support. In his statements - as government sources have said - Mr Mitsotakis met with Donald Trump's "understanding".
Trump declined to comment on the Turkish provocations
Greece, however, did not receive a clear message of condemnation on the part of the US President, but neither was this expected. We should not forget that the only leader Donald Trump personally informed of Soleimani's assassination was Tayyip Erdogan, while all other allies were briefed at the level of foreign ministers. In joint statements in the Oval Office before the crucial meeting of the two, the US President refrained from expressing his full support for Greece over Turkey, focusing on the "amazing" relations between Greece and the US and the improving Greek economy that is a "huge success".
Neither did Donald Trump make a public statement on the F-35 issue, despite the fact that Kyriakos Mitsotakis has stressed that Greece is "very interested in participating in this and other defense programs". After the meeting, however, it became known that the Greek side was committed to launching negotiations on acquiring a squadron of new F-35 fighters, the necessity of which is questioned by many in the Greek Armed Forces, as they are purely offensive aircraft that are not compatible with the Hellenic Air Force's deterrent dogma.
"It has been confirmed that Greek-American relations have been at their best for decades. Donald Trump now has a clear picture of the geopolitical situation in our region and that Greece is part of the solution, not the problem, "commented Stelios Petsas, a government spokesman after the two leaders' meeting. As for the F-35, he explained that they will be acquired after the F-16 upgrade is completed, so after 2024-25. "The negotiations will last one and a half years," he noted.
What was said
The Turkey-Libya agreement causes destabilization, stated Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on camera at the Oval Office on Tuesday evening. He also noted that Greece expects the US's support on the matter and added that his country is an ally the US can rely on.
US President Donald Trump referred to the geostrategic importance and history of Greece as he began his meeting with Mitsotakis, whom he welcomed to the White House saying that "it is my honor to have the Greek Prime Minister and the first lady of Greece here, too. Thank you very much for being here. We have a lot to discuss."
Trump described Greek-American relations as amazing and noted that they are the closest they have ever been. He made a special reference to the Greek economy, noting that Greece has managed to recover very quickly.
"Greece and its recovery are a huge success," the US President underlined.
PM Mitsotakis: 'We want US businesses to invest in Greece'
Greece-US relations are at their best possible point, said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and also emphasized the potential for improving relations between the two countries in terms of "our geopolitical part, the field of defense in which we have made great progress, and in which we can ensure that Greece will always be a reliable ally in a complex world."
Focusing on the economic aspect of bilateral relations, Mitsotakis noted that "the Greek economy has recovered in recent months, we have reduced taxes," while "in addition, we are following a policy that has also worked well in the US," he added.
Addressing the US President, Mitsotakis said that "we look forward to your positive support, we want US businesses to invest in Greece so that we can expand the economy at a rate so striking that people will really feel the difference."
He pointed out that the US can always rely on Greece as a reliable and predictable partner.
Donald Trump expressed his appreciation for this stance and congratulated Mitsotakis on the performance of Greece's economy. "In terms of percentage growth, we are talking about one of the biggest rebounds in the world. It's a huge recovery and you have done very well," Trump observed.
Sharp response to SYRIZA
"We have seen again the 'good', old SYRIZA of slogans and irresponsibility indulging in a crescendo of pettiness," government circles said in the meantime, responding to a statement from the main opposition that characterized the Mitsotakis - Trump meeting as a fiasco.b