The previous decade will be remembered with frustration, if not horror, in Greece. An unprecedented economic crisis exhausted the majority of Greek citizens, deprived the country of financial independence and fueled populism, almost leading it to a chaotic default. But the period from 2010 until 2019 will also be remembered for an impressive accomplishment in foreign policy. This is the development of the trilateral partnership with Israel and Cyprus. Some call this partnership an alliance. They are right.
The new decade starts with the convening of the seventh tripartite summit in Athens, and more importantly with the signing of an agreement for the construction of the EastMed pipeline. This paves the way for the implementation of the project, although there is a long way ahead. Greece, Israel and Cyprus are steadily cementing their friendship. Experience from the last 10 years outlines tangible progress made and reflects the joint determination for new, specific steps.
Since December 2018, Washington has clearly supported the so-called democratic bloc. It was then that the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, took part in the fifth meeting of the leaders of the three countries in Beersheba, where he described this partnership as “an anchor of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.” A few months later, in March 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Jerusalem to attend the sixth trilateral summit. And now the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership, recently signed by President Donald Trump, enables the US to support the democratic bloc through energy and defense cooperation mechanisms.
The agenda could be enriched even further. The concrete participation of US companies in the construction of the EastMed pipeline and the creation of a new security architecture in the Mediterranean under the dialogue scheme of NATO, possibly leading to new defense cooperation agreements, will further boost the alliance. The political effort can be facilitated by ongoing synergies of American Jewish and American Greek organizations, as well as by the work of new initiatives such as the Israel-Hellenic Forum established a few weeks ago in Jerusalem by B’nai B’rith. Patience and constructive thinking will be required. When there is a will, there is a way.
Dr George Tzogopoulos, senior fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and Centre International de Formation Europeenne (CIFE), teaches international relations at the Democritus University of Thrace.