Egypt is ‘key’

Egypt is ‘key’

We shouldn’t start complaining again. Yes, Turkey is playing ball at the moment. After it opened up a number of fronts, developments meant it had to close them with quick and rather spectacular moves. It warmed its ties with Israel and key Gulf states while reviving support in the United States.

Meanwhile, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s diplomatic efforts over Ukraine showcased Turkey on the international stage as a potential mediator. In spite of its persistent efforts, though, Turkey has not yet managed to break the ice with Egypt. And this, as we shall see, is important.

All that is not necessarily bad for Greece. Because Turkey is trying to show that it is no longer the regional troublemaker and because revisionism is anathema internationally, the seemingly unavoidable escalation of tensions with Greece will most likely not happen. At the same time, political pressure on Erdogan, who is now scoring political points under the limelight, has eased.

Greece needed time and a period of calm. First, because it will be able to close the gap on Turkey in certain crucial areas of defense. And second because it is bad news when Greece and Turkey both experience tension while one or both countries are in a pre-election period.

Beyond that, this is not the time for any final assessments – neither for us nor Turkey. The geopolitical environment is very fluid and it will take time for the dust to settle. We should obviously be focused on our goals as this is not the time for complaints, inaction or chasing handshakes for publicity reasons.

For example, it will be decided in the coming months how natural gas will be transported from the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe. If the EastMed pipeline is not constructed, there is a need for a Plan B that will serve Greek interests. The most likely scenario is an Israeli-Egyptian-Greek pipeline. Israel will play a key role in the decision. The country that can influence Jerusalem as much as anyone else is Egypt. The Athens-Cairo relationship is now very close and showing endurance. It is not a victim to changing governments or specific people.

So we need to show calmness and perseverance. Diplomacy is not a 100-meter sprint. It is a marathon that constantly tests endurance, skills and imagination.

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