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23 March, 2019
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Strategic ties with US, increased role in Balkans, East Med

Cooperation between Athens and Washington seems to be taking on a genuinely strategic dimension

Athanasios Ellis

Athanasios Ellis

With the steady steps taken by successive governments in recent years, Greece is gradually assuming the geostrategic role that it is entitled to in the wider region.

The strengthening of bilateral ties with the United States is a fundamental parameter of this development. It is a welcome fact that this policy is being pursued by a leftist-led government. The blind, harmful anti-Americanism of the past is unlikely to resurface.

Cooperation between Athens and Washington seems to be taking on a genuinely strategic dimension, flourishing in tandem with trilateral schemes between Greece, Cyprus and Israel on the one hand, and Greece, Cyprus and Egypt, on the other.

On Thursday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades will visit Israel for another tripartite meeting with the country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Meanwhile, more cooperation schemes with other regional states are in the offing. On Monday, Athens hosted a trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of Greece, Cyprus and the Palestinian Authority. On Wednesday, the Greek and Cypriot foreign ministers will hold talks with their Jordanian counterpart in Nicosia.

At the same time, Athens is scaling up its activity in the Balkans. The Greek-Serbian High-Level Cooperation Council takes place in Belgrade on Friday, while a gathering of the leaders of Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania is planned for the following day.

Energy developments also bring regional countries closer together. Plans to transfer gas via pipelines and liquefied natural gas on tankers from the US and the Eastern Mediterranean to markets in the Balkans and Western Europe are moving ahead in this context.

The positive developments in all the above areas affect each other, while this nascent geopolitical structure transcends national governments and national leaders. Here Alexis Tsipras appears to be moving in the right direction, carrying on the policies of his predecessors. A future conservative New Democracy government is expected to do likewise.

Even the ratification of the Prespes name deal between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by the current Parliament will settle the issue for good as New Democracy will respect and implement the agreement.

In a welcome departure from the past, none of Greece’s mainstream parties vying for power threatens to revoke the country’s international commitments. This fact ensures continuity and consistency, enhancing the role and increasing the influence of the country in its region.

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