A trilateral mode of collaboration

A trilateral mode of collaboration

The joint declaration of the December 7 Greece-Israel-Cyprus summit exhibits the determination of the three countries to further strengthen their cooperation. New Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett remains committed to the policy of his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu.

This continuity allows for the progress of what is perhaps the most critical ingredient of the Greek-Israeli friendship. Values bringing the two countries, along with Cyprus, together are unwavering and long-standing.

The trilateral mode of collaboration prioritizes energy themes as the Jerusalem declaration itself reads. Multilateral schemes further boost synergies in that respect. The EastMed Gas Forum, in which the three countries participate, has the capacity to turn hydrocarbon reserves into a catalyst for regional stability and prosperity and promote collective action for tackling common challenges on the environmental agenda. The role of Egypt is similarly significant.

Only a few days before the Jerusalem summit, Athens and Egypt teamed up in the supply of liquefied natural gas, while Cyprus plans to construct a pipeline from its reservoirs to the Egyptian coast. Israel, for its part, already benefits from an existing pipeline that transports natural gas to Egypt. The two countries are also negotiating the construction of a second one.

Greece, Israel and Cyprus reiterated their firm and unchanging position that energy cooperation ought to be based on international law, including the law of the sea the respect for all states to exercise their sovereign rights in their respective continental shelves or exclusive economic zones. This is a message to Turkey which recently harassed the Nautical Geo research vessel.

The alleged rewarming of Turkish-Israeli relations will not cause the Israeli government to deviate from its determination to steadily join forces with Greece and Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean. Israel itself is in talks with Lebanon about delimiting their maritime zones. The latter and Turkey are not members of the EastMed Gas Forum.

Inclusivity remains a desideratum. It is not a goal itself, however. Conditions do apply. 
Last but not least, the Jerusalem declaration makes a reference to the need to convene the EU-Israel Association Council. This reference not only outlines the importance of Europe to Israel but also the role that Athens and Nicosia might be able to play at the EU level.

Being well placed in the European environment, Greece and Cyprus have the opportunity to raise their partnership with Israel to new heights and strengthen their regional positions.

Dr George Tzogopoulos, is a lecturer at the European Institute in Nice and senior fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) and the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

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