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Israel, Greece, Cyprus relations strengthen

Greece and Israel are significantly bolstering bilateral relations in numerous sectors, including in the fields of energy and maritime security.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis concluded a state visit to Israel yesterday, prior to which he especially highlighted the tremendous importance to the trilateral relationship between the Hellenic Republic, Cyprus and the Jewish State – which are closely cooperating on the emblematic project of the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, alongside the United States and ‘others’ with the aim of connecting Israel’s vast offshore gas reservoirs to Europe.

In remarks addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Greek Premier said, “You pointed out the tremendous importance of our trilateral relationship; Israel, Greece, Cyprus. This is a format, that with the addition of the United States in the 3+1 format has a vision of a peaceful eastern Mediterranean. But, of course, it was in this context that the vision of the East-Med pipeline was born. We (were) very, very, happy to have you in Athens on January 2nd when we actually signed the pipeline (agreement) and looking forward to also bringing Italy on board and starting in earnest to work on this emblematic project, which is a project of great interest for Europe as a whole, because we are looking for alternative sources of natural gas.”

Mitsotakis also used the occasion to highlight dangers posed to the East-Med project by Turkey – which signed a Maritime Boundary Treaty with Libya – in complete disregard of Cypriot and Greek legal claims over the waters in accordance with the “Law of the Sea” body of international legislation concerning states’ rights and duties in maritime environments.

After revealing that his discussion with Netanyahu on the “broader region” included what he considered “Turkey‘s aggressive behavior in the eastern Mediterranean,” Mitsotakis elaborated that Ankara’s actions amount to “a threat to the regional peace and stability” in that recent “illegal and provocative” actions “at our sea, air and land borders.”

He also condemned Turkey’s deepening relationship with Libya, and said that Athens views the two countries self-declared Mediterranean maritime agreement to be “completely null and void.”