As tensions with Turkey mount in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece is reportedly seeking ways to activate a mutual assistance clause of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty in a bid to secure its borders.
More specifically, Athens is calling on Brussels to interpret paragraph 7 of article 42 in the treaty so as to make it clear that Greece’s sea borders are also the borders of the European Union.
The paragraph stipulates that an EU country can ask for the help of the other 26 member states if it comes under attack.
“The Union and its Member States shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member State is the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster. The Union shall mobilize all the instruments at its disposal, including the military resources made available by the Member States,” the clause says.
However, that clause goes on to state that “should a Member State be the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster, the other Member States shall assist it at the request of its political authorities.”
France was the first European Union country to ask for the activation of the paragraph and that was in the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015.
Given that Paris has already stressed the need to further boost European defense, Athens is banking on the support of France, along with that of other small countries that would also like to see stronger supervision of their borders, particularly on the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.
Officials have clarified that Athens is by no means trying to undermine NATO’s role in the provision of collective defense and security to the European Union.
Rather, it is seeking to increase its options in the face of efforts by countries like Turkey that want to revise existing border agreements.
Moreover, the government’s course of action is not intended to stand in the way of its effort to strengthen ties with the United States – highlighted by the Strategic Dialogue between the two countries that will take place in Washington on December 13.
These ties are also being bolstered by ongoing efforts to form a cohesive security and defense link between Greece, Cyprus and Israel under the umbrella of the US.