New prospects for East Med

New prospects for East Med

The “Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act” submitted to the US Congress by Senators Robert Menendez and Marco Rubio that essentially upgrades the geopolitical roles of Greece and Cyprus is seen in Athens as a reflection of Washington’s renewed interest and growing involvement in the region. 

Considering the high priority given to the Eastern Mediterranean by the US, the act also suggests that the trilateral alliance between Greece, Israel and Cyprus could serve a vehicle for the new dynamic in the region. 

The draft bill, which however has yet to be adopted by the US State Department, includes several provisions calling for an increased American presence in the Eastern Mediterranean. Tellingly, the act recommends – for the first time in a text of this nature – initiatives to strengthen the axis stretching from Israel to Greece. 

It also proposes the non-sale of US-made F-35 fighter jets to Turkey if Ankara moves ahead with the acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile defense system from Russia, which, it notes, is trying to expand its influence in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

Moreover, Athens welcomed the call made for the submission – no later than 90 days after the act is enacted – of a report listing violations of Greek airspace and instances of interference in the efforts of Cyprus to explore and exploit its natural reserves. 

What’s more, it urged the lifting of the US arms embargo on Cyprus, as well as the approval of 3 million dollars in military aid to Greece via the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program and 2 million dollars in military aid to Cyprus through the International Military Education & Training (IMET) program. 

“This is the first time that the American Congress has shown such interest, even for Turkey’s violations in the Aegean and Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone,” Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis said Thursday, adding that the act highlights the importance of Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

“With the current problems in Turkey, Greece’s role is further underscored,” he said.

The Strategic Dialogue between Greece and the US which began in December has also played a significant role in Washington’s support to Athens, he added.

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