US bill on EastMed strategy a ‘step in right direction,’ says defense minister

US bill on EastMed strategy a ‘step in right direction,’ says defense minister

Greece's Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis on Wednesday hailed the introduction in the US Senate of bipartisan legislation to reshape the country's strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean, describing it as “a step in the right direction."

The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019, introduced by Senators Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio, would allow the US to fully support the trilateral partnership of Israel, Greece, and Cyprus through energy and defense cooperation initiatives – including by lifting the embargo on arms transfers to Cyprus.

“It is a step in the right direction. I think it highlights Greece's role as a very serious player in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean,” he told journalists during a presentation of the military trade show Defence Exhibition Athens (DEFEA), which will be held in 2020.

“I think this is the first time that the US Congress has shown such an interest even in the airspace violations that take place all over the Aegean and Cyprus from Turkey,” he added, noting that this is a result of the strategic dialogue that has been initiated with the US.

“This means that this dialogue is active and what has been discussed is in the process of implementation.”

Apostolakis said the draft legislation shows Greece's efforts to maintain peace and security in the wider region is branding the country as a reliable player in defense.

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