Tom Ellis TOM ELLIS

With Israel in Washington

COMMENT

TAGS: Cyprus, Diplomacy, Energy

Despite the volatile geopolitical conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the constant threats coming from Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s direction, Cyprus appears to remain unaffected.

It is operating in a methodical manner, and, together with Greece, it is making the most out of its trilateral cooperation schemes with Israel and Egypt, which are both gradually evolving into alliances proper. (Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi are scheduled to hold a tripartite meeting on Crete on Wednesday.)

As far as Cyprus’s cooperation with Israel is concerned, it not only enjoys Washington’s blessing but also the backing of the strong American Jewish community, which makes no secret of its frustration at Ankara’s behavior.

In light of the above, the next trilateral meeting between Tsipras, Anastasiades and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could – perhaps on a more informal level – be held in Washington. That would underscore the significance that the three countries attribute to the support from the US and from the Greek and Jewish diasporas, which for their part have maintained channels of communication for decades.

The annual conferences held by leading Jewish groups in the US capital offer an opportunity for an initiative of that kind.

Amid these developments, Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides will meet next month with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department. This comes on the back of the productive meeting he had a few days ago in New York with Assistant US Secretary of State for European Affairs Wess Mitchell, the man behind Washington’s foreign policy in the Balkans and, to a large extent, the Eastern Mediterranean.

Christodoulides’s visit to Washington will take place as US energy giant ExxonMobil starts drilling in Block 10 of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), while also considering the possibility of conducting hydrocarbon exploration in other blocks.

The above developments in the energy sector, which obviously also have an economic and geostrategic dimension, are of interest to the US administration and the American Jewish community, and that has to be taken advantage of.

Finally, the Cypriots’ interest is not limited to energy matters or the continuation in an effective manner of the UN peacemaking mission on the island.

These days it also covers the deepening of Nicosia’s bilateral cooperation with Washington in the area of defense and security, where, given the regional circumstances, it’s perhaps time to consider the supply of US military equipment to Cyprus.

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