Biden signals importance of Greece to US with a phone call

Biden congratulated Greece on its bicentennial and expressed his commitment to further deepening strong bilateral ties.

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, US, February 5, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE/FILE PHOTO)
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, US, February 5, 2021.
US President Joe Biden called Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday. The call symbolizes the strong bond and importance of Greece for the US and regional stability. In recent years Greece has played an increasingly important role, building emerging strategic partnerships with the Gulf and with Egypt and Israel that mesh well with the US posture in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. In addition, Greece’s importance in both sectors, from Europe to NATO and the EastMed-MidEast regional framework matters more than ever.  
Biden congratulated Greece on the celebration of its bicentennial and expressed his commitment to further deepening the strong bilateral ties between our countries. “He also conveyed his appreciation for our growing defense cooperation, including through the US Naval Support Activity Souda Bay.
"The two leaders agreed to work together to address the threat of climate change and pursue a sustainable economic recovery. The President conveyed his hope for stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. They also agreed to coordinate on issues of shared interest, including energy security, China, Russia, and the Western Balkans,” the readout of the conversation from the White House says.
Conversations are symbolic. The Biden administration has made concerted efforts to show how much words and foreign policy strategy and planning matter. Unlike the last US administration which tended to act on the fly, with former US President Donald Trump taking calls from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at all hours of the day so that Erdogan could order the US to change it policies in places like Syria, the current US president doesn’t appear to take orders from Ankara or other world leaders.
He prefers to be more cautious and work with his national security and foreign policy team to decide when the US will speak on various subjects. That means less appearance of chaos in the White House and the appearance of more coordination. When there is more coordination than phone calls matter more because the public can rely on the fact that they were planned and not random.
This is the backdrop to the call to Greece. Greece is celebrating 200 years of independence. It fought a difficult war of independence against the Ottoman Empire. The empire was brutal, using slavery against minorities and eventually genocide against Armenians and ethnic cleansing of Greeks, such as the Pontic Greeks, as the empire was destroyed in the course of the First World War and its aftermath.
The Greek War of Independence helped cement the process of Ottoman decline and the eventual emergence of modern Turkey after the 1918. However, Turkey is now seeking to claw back its former power through irredentist claims. Turkey has invaded northern Syria, ethnically cleansed Afrin, seeks to push Northern Cyprus toward a “two state” concept, and has moved forces into northern Iraq, sent forces to Libya and also moved mercenaries to Azerbaijan.
Turkey also continues to threaten Greece and harass the eastern Mediterranean with energy activities that are a cover for a forward and muscular naval policy. Last year this almost resulted in clashes with Athens. Turkey has threatened the US, Greece, Israel, Armenia, Cyprus, Egypt, the UAE and many other countries over the last year and a half. Now Turkey claims it wants to reconcile, knowing its blank check from the former US administration has ended.  
Biden’s call to Greece came after US Secretary of State met his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Europe. Blinken urged Turkey to stop buying and operating Russia’s S-400 air defense system, which has ruffled NATO feathers. Meanwhile, Turkey has gambled on Germany’s continued collaboration with Ankara and using migrants to threaten Europe. The US continues to threaten sanctions on Turkey for its behavior.
In Turkey the ruling party continues to threaten the opposition, attack gay rights and women’s rights and recently jailed for life a young Kurdish woman that Turkish-backed Syrian extremists kidnapped from Syria in 2019. Cicek Kobani, the captured woman was illegally returned to Turkey and is now imprisoned.  
For Greece the US support and the call is important. Israel and Greece are working more closely together. Greece is also working with other Israeli partners, from the UAE to Egypt and Cyprus. All of these countries are part of the arc of stability that has formed from India to the UAE and Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and Israel. This links into France and the US posture in the Eastern Mediterranean.