According to the Greek Minister of Defense: The strong ties of our three countries are based on common principles and values, and it is our common vision and aim to create an environment and conditions of stability, security and prosperity in the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean. It is our common goal to implement a long-term, coherent, and substantial strategic cooperation, in accordance with the International Law and the principles of good neighbourly relations with all the countries of the region.
The three ministers agreed that trilateral cooperation should be further developed and that the possibility of expanding such cooperation in the form of a “3+1” with other countries that share common values and goals for the future transregional status should be considered. This framework includes the United States as well, and the US presence is of particular importance for the security and stability of the Eastern Mediterranean. The three sides will work closely together on a gas transfer project as tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean continue over the right to explore offshore gas resources.
The Greek side, at a press conference, took the opportunity of the meeting to condemn Turkey’s illegal, provocative and unilateral actions in the maritime zones of Greece and Cyprus which constitute a flagrant violation of international law and of good neighbourly relations. He said Turkey’s actions would undermine regional stability and peace in the Eastern Mediterranean. According to the Greek Defense Minister, the US presence in the Eastern Mediterranean is of “special importance” for the stability of the region. In recent years, Greece has repeatedly underlined the trilateral relations of Cyprus, Greece and Israel as a guarantor of security in the region, and this cooperation creates new geography for understanding that is completely different from the old stereotypes, in which case a new map of the region will be formed. The Cypriot defence minister also claimed that all the three sides were seeking expansion of their partnership with an aim of including other countries, such as the United States.
Israeli Defense Minister referred to the large-scale industry cooperation that will bolster defence abilities and create thousands of jobs for all three economies and claimed that Israel always prefers dialogue over military power and extends its hand to anyone who desires to join the path of peace but at the same time said his country cannot ignore threats against its citizens. ‘Even now, our forces are on heightened security alert across our borders.’
In his view, the tripartite cooperation has led to stability, collaboration and peace across the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as to warm ties between the peoples. At this historic moment of international reconciliation, Israel is more committed than ever to supporting countries that have chosen peace over conflict and interaction over aggression. Unfortunately, not all countries have chosen this path, and peace-loving nations must be united and ready to jointly confront the threats posed by radical regimes and terrorist organizations that have chosen aggression and violence. He claims that the three sides face challenges and threats and, of course, common interests, and predicts that trilateral cooperation will increase in 2021 and cooperation in the fields of advanced technologies, economy and tourism will also develop.
Following Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean waters and its efforts to find new sources of energy and in the aftermath of escalation of tensions between Athens and Ankara and lack of European support for Greece, this country and Greek-inhabited Cyprus have been forced to compensate for their military weakness by turning to the Israeli regime. For more than a year, Turkey has been trying to explore hydrocarbon resources by sending several reconnaissance ships to the Eastern Mediterranean. Despite protests from the international community and political officials in the Mediterranean and the European Union, Turkey considers its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean to be due to its legitimacy in using its maritime borders in accordance with international law.
Following the holding of the tripartite meeting and victory of former Prime Minister of the Turkish-inhabited Cypriot, Ersin Tatar, a close ally of Turkey in the presidential election, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during a visit which was described as “controversial”, called for the formation of “two independent states” in Cyprus. He called the formation of the two governments in Cyprus “the only solution to the conflict”. His plan to form the two independent states on the island of Cyprus met with a sharp reaction from Greek Cypriots, with President Nicos Anastasiades calling Erdogan’s remarks a “new sedition”.
Evidence shows that the Greek government is in talks with the UAE to join the trilateral regional cooperation of Greece and Cyprus. During the recent visit of the Greek Prime Minister to the UAE, the two governments reaffirmed their readiness to strengthen defence cooperation and explore new perspectives, with an aim of effectively addressing common challenges that threaten regional and global peace, security and stability. Although the UAE is not a manufacturer of weapons systems, it has recently played an important role in providing Greece with access to the necessary equipment and spare parts, such as for the operation of the Greek Air Force Mirage 2000 fighter jets. It is estimated that the Greek Air Force could use the UAE’s strategic reserves to supply French SCALP-EG missiles, which are intended to strike pre-determined targets and are fired by a variety of military aircraft.
Greece and the United Arab Emirates have criticized Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean as destabilizing and condemned Turkey’s violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus. They also called Turkey’s actions in the Middle East, the Southeastern Mediterranean and the South Caucasus region aggressive and a clear violation of international law.
Evidence suggests that due to the escalation of tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the plan for strengthening the Greek Air Force with Rafale and F-35 fighter jets and drones is likely to go ahead in 2021 and is expected to be debated in the parliament in December. Greece can obtain six second-hand F-35 fighter jets and six Rafale aircraft by 2021. The Greek conservative government plans to purchase 18 French Rafale fighter jets and 18 to 24 new and second-hand F-35 fighter jets from the United States and insists on receiving six second-hand F-35 fighter jets by 2021. Athens also sent three C-130s to Israel for repairs to be joined to its Air Force fleet. Greece, in addition to the provision of the Israeli Heron drone, has also entered into negotiations with Tel Aviv on the provision of anti-drone system.