Tom Ellis TOM ELLIS

Greece, Israel and Cyprus – with or without others

COMMENT

TAGS: Security, Diplomacy

Locked in a region marked by uncertainty and risky endeavors, and amid widespread concern sparked by Turkey’s incursion into Syria, Greece, Cyprus and Israel are forging a web of stability. The project is designed to serve their own interests but at the same time serves those of Europe and the United States.

Here are three democratic states, each with its own comparative advantages, which have over the past 10 years made a systematic effort on a bilateral and trilateral level to establish a system of mutually beneficial cooperation across a wide range of activities.

A large number of plans are being implemented, or are under consideration – from the sharing of intelligence and know-how and the implementation of joint military drills to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), even satellites, and energy cooperation.

Meanwhile, new opportunities are opening up in the economy and trade. Greece and Cyprus represent Israel’s natural gateway to European markets.

Energy is key in all this. Several projects are on the agenda, including the construction of the EastMed pipeline, the transfer of liquefied natural gas by LNG carriers, and the subsea electricity cable. A Greek-owned company, which was quick to enter the Israeli market, is developing a significant portion of Israel’s energy resources.

At the same time, Israel wants Greece to participate in a regional transport network connecting Piraeus port to those of Haifa and Ashdod.

Greece, Cyprus and Israel are close US allies and they appreciate Washington’s involvement in the existing trilateral scheme (in the form of 3+1). They nevertheless understand that decision-making at the White House does not inspire much certainty of late.

In light of this, they are pursuing their own effective ways of cooperation with the aim of addressing their specific needs in the areas of security and defense. The issue was recently revisited in Athens by the two countries’ foreign ministers, Nikos Dendias and Israel Katz, as well as their armed forces chiefs, Christos Christodoulou and Aviv Kochavi, who met in Jerusalem.

The two countries, as well as Cyprus, see that their multifaceted strategic cooperation brings added value to their regional status. They have every reason to want to deepen that cooperation, with or without the support of third parties.

Online