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Cyprus-Greece-Israel ties are a ‘strategic partnership’

The relationship that exists among the three Mediterranean nations was “inconceivable” just 20 years ago, says Israel’s Ambassador to Cyprus Oren Anolik.

The opening session of the Israel Hellenic Forum underway in Nicosia, June 19, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.
The opening session of the Israel Hellenic Forum underway in Nicosia, June 19, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.

The relationship between Cyprus, Greece and Israel has developed into a strategic one, based on a shared common vision for a thriving Eastern Mediterranean, the president of the Republic of Cyprus said on Monday.

The remarks, made at the Israel Hellenic Forum underway in Nicosia, come amid burgeoning relations between Israel and both Cyprus and Greece in a variety of fields including energy, defense, tourism, high-tech and cybersecurity.

“Our trilateral cooperation has evolved considerably since its inception and we can proudly say that it is nothing else but a strategic partnership,” said President Nikos Christodoulides.

“For the Republic of Cyprus, the strengthening and deepening of our already excellent relations with Israel, always in cooperation with Greece of course, is part of a holistic strategy with regards to our foreign policy, which has high on the agenda the cooperation with all like-minded countries in the region,” he added.

The three-day conference, which is being organized by the B’nai B’rith World Center in cooperation with the Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs, the University of Nicosia and the Institute of International Relations (IDIS) at Panteion University in Athens, comes as cooperation between the three Eastern Mediterranean countries has reached an all-time high.

“The fact that we are speaking today of this trilateral relationship in terms of a strategic partnership speaks volumes and was simply inconceivable just 20 years ago,” Israel’s Ambassador to Cyprus Oren Anolik told JNS.

“We share the same vision of regional cooperation via the creation of many linkages on different levels,” added Cypriot Justice Minister Anna Koukkides-Procopiou, a founding member of the Israel-Hellenic Forum. “Our plans on energy will only further deepen our ties over time.”

Energy cooperation

The conference comes amid the construction of an “energy highway” that will connect the national electricity grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece.

The mammoth European Union-backed energy project is taking place as the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia are fueling a global energy crisis that has hit the European Union hard, spotlighting the continent’s dependence on foreign energy.

Ties received a further boost earlier this year when legislators from the United States, Greece, Cyprus and Israel met via video conference to advance ties and reaffirm their commitment to the security and prosperity of the three allied countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The 3+1 interparliamentary group meeting follows the passage of bipartisan legislation put forward in the U.S. Senate that significantly bolsters American support for Greek military modernization as well as increased multilateral engagement among Cyprus, Greece, Israel and the United States.

A separate trilateral summit between the leaders of Greece, Cyprus and Israel is also planned for later this year.

‘No limit’ to cooperation

The forum, which will include plenary sessions on defense and energy cooperation, as well as the impact of the war in Ukraine on the Middle East, is being held for the first time in Cyprus after previously taking place in Jerusalem four years ago and then in Athens last year.

Held at the University of Nicosia’s UNESCO amphitheater, the event brought together scores of government officials, ambassadors, academics and analysts from the three countries who have been active in fostering the trilateral relationship.

“The total refashioning of trilateral relations has transformed into close ties on a broad front from energy to military, to tourism and high-tech,” said Dan Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International. “There is no limit to this kind of cooperation.”

Concluded Christodoulides: “The strong and long-lasting trilateral relationship between Israel-Greece-Cyprus is firmly based on solid foundations, on common principles and values, and, of course, a common vision for our region.”

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