Rad­i­cal change in our re­gion

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Some­thing sig­nif­i­cant ap­pears to be tak­ing shape in Greek-US re­la­tions as Ankara ramps up ten­sions over oil and gas rights in the East­ern Mediter­ranean. In Wash­ing­ton’s view, there is an axis in the mak­ing, start­ing from Is­rael, cross­ing through Cyprus and Greece, and cul­mi­nat­ing in Poland. These are all coun­tries that have a strate­gic re­la­tion­ship with the United States while also of­fer­ing mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties. It is also clear that US gov­ern­ing of­fi­cials are work­ing on a Plan B out­lin­ing what Wash­ing­ton’s re­sponse should be in the event that Turkey con­tin­ues to de­tach it­self from west­ern in­ter­ests. The brain­child of US As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for Euro­pean and Eurasian Af­fairs Wess Mitchell, that plan is ex­pected to be dis­cussed dur­ing a meet­ing sched­uled for De­cem­ber 13 in Wash­ing­ton on ‘US-Greece Strate­gic Di­a­logue.’ Mean­while lit­tle at­ten­tion is be­ing paid to sev­eral in­ter­est­ing de­vel­op­ments. The chief of Cyprus’s armed forces re­cently met with his US coun­ter­part. The Cypriot for­eign min­is­ter met with his Amer­i­can peer and with the White House na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor. This sort of thing never used to hap­pen in the past and they can­not be de­scribed as rou­tine meet­ings. What will come of this flurry of ac­tiv­ity, how­ever, is hard to say, and, it al­most goes with­out say­ing, Greek and Cypriot am­bi­tions should be re­strained. There is no doubt that our re­gion is un­der­go­ing rad­i­cal change. The re­la­tions of Greece and Cyprus with Is­rael were ba­si­cally the key cat­a­lyst for re­cent de­vel­op­ments. It is of para­mount im­por­tance, how­ever, that those in po­si­tions of power prac­tice cau­tion and strive to avoid mis­taken as­sump­tions about how the US and Is­rael would re­act in the event of a con­fronta­tion in the Aegean or fur­ther south. Greece should set na­tional goals and pur­sue them in the con­text of all the tec­tonic shifts in the re­gion. There are some good things be­ing done that we don’t know about. How­ever, se­cur­ing guar­an­tees for the coun­try’s se­cu­rity should be one of our key na­tional goals. An­other should be to one day see Amer­i­can war­ships off the Aegean is­lands of Agath­on­isi or Kastel­lorizo. In this re­gion no one ex­pects that some­one else will fight for them if the need arises. But there are cer­tain ma­neu­vers that could help avert the sit­u­a­tion from es­ca­lat­ing dan­ger­ously.

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