Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ visit to Israel this week was successful. It was another step toward the consolidation of a friendship that is being actively supported by his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu. This friendship is continuously producing new results that benefit both sides. The Jerusalem agenda included discussions on cybersecurity, agriculture, energy, tourism and other regional issues.
For Athens, however, to look at Israel as a potential savior in Greek-Turkish relations rather demonstrates wishful thinking. The employment of realism in foreign policy requires a careful analysis of the complexities of a turbulent region. The most important lesson Greek authorities should have learned over the last 10 years is that Israel grounds its national security on its own capabilities. The country has paid a heavy price in human lives to succeed in this goal, is a tough negotiator – occasionally disagreeing with the US administration, as was notably the case during the years of President Barack Obama – and knows how to cope with external dangers in daily life.
Instead of cultivating illusions, Greece should aim at achieving the maximum in its partnership with Israel at all levels. But patience does not go together with the Greek temperament. Problems cannot be solved without careful, long-term planning and investments. The 3+1 format – in other words the US’s support for the trilateral partnership of Greece, Israel and Cyprus – is a very promising mechanism. Of course, Washington will not be making decisions by taking only the interests of this bloc into account. Turkey is not being ignored. There are voices in the US that are pushing for deeper synergies with Greece, Israel and Cyprus, as well as others that traditionally rely on the Turkish card. President US President Donald Trump, a regular interlocutor of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, constitutes the most striking example.
It is highly debatable whether current American policies, in some coordination with Ankara in Syria, Libya and beyond, are wise. No answer to this question can be given at this moment. For its part, Athens is charting a safe course in the Eastern Mediterranean and needs no panic moves. The role of diasporas is significant in that regard. B’nai B’rith International and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations welcomed in a statement the decision of Netanyahu to host both Mitsotakis and Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiadis in June in Jerusalem. It is time to work even harder on the vision of a peaceful and prosperous Eastern Mediterranean, the main objective of the Israel-Hellenic Forum, which the author co-convenes.
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.