Tom Ellis TOM ELLIS

The US in the Greece, Cyprus, Israel cooperation scheme

COMMENT

TAGS: Diplomacy

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides meets on Tuesday with his American counterpart Mike Pompeo at the State Department. His trip to Washington comes in the wake of Turkish warnings with regard to the Aegean Sea in reaction to Athens’s plans for the gradual expansion of Greek territorial waters, and also with regard to Cyprus, and particularly the exploitation of energy deposits within the Mediterranean island’s exclusive economic zone. The timing of this meeting is also crucial, as American energy giant ExxonMobil is set to start drilling for oil and gas inside Cyprus’s EEZ.

Next month, meanwhile, will see the launch of the US-Greece Strategic Dialogue initiative. Conditions appear to have matured for the expansion of the tripartite cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel to also include the US. Such a scheme would have multiple benefits for all parties – including Washington – while making a significant contribution to security, stability and peace in the volatile Eastern Mediterranean region. There are many and obvious synergies that could result from such an expansion of the alliance, with benefits for everyone involved.

Washington is already examining the prospect of a four-way meeting between the US, Greece, Israel and Cyprus. This could take place at the level of foreign ministers, something that should be facilitated by the fact that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu both also hold the post of foreign minister in their respective countries. In the event of such a meeting Nicosia could be represented by President Nikos Anastasiades, allowing a four-way partnership to get off the ground.

Washington’s representation through the US Secretary of State in the annual trilateral meetings between Greek, Cypriot and Israeli leaders would be both feasible and beneficial for everyone involved. In that context it would be of significant symbolism if the latter’s next trilateral summit were to take place in Washington.

Furthermore, the presence of the Israeli premier at the recent four-party summit between Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia in the Black Sea resort town of Varna demonstrated that the network of cooperation is expanding across southeastern Europe – with Greece playing a key role.

This nascent axis fulfills Israel’s ambition for closer links to the European Union, while at the same time advancing America’s geostrategic interests.

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