Greece starts diplomatic offensive on various fronts

Athens has embarked on an ambitious diplomatic offensive aiming to woo old and new friends in the bid to advance its positions in the face of Turkey’s stance in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean. 

Although Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan exchanged pledges to support each other’s countries following Friday’s catastrophic earthquake, it is unlikely that the “earthquake diplomacy” that warmed ties between the two countries in 1999 will be repeated in view of current tensions. 

As part of its diplomatic push, Greece is promoting new trilateral cooperation schemes.

As Kathimerini revealed last week, it is in the process of forming a tripartite scheme with the United Arab Emirates and India, which will also have a significant defence dimension.

There are thoughts of including the UAE in the 3+1 format (Greece, Cyprus, Israel with United States support), especially in view of the recent normalisation of relations between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi under the auspices and encouragement of Washington.

Egypt’s plans to join such a scheme may still be in their infancy but discussions between Athens, Nicosia and Cairo, with Paris playing the role of an additional member, are already under way. The issue will be further discussed during the upcoming visit of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Athens (most likely on Nov. 11), but also at the tripartite meeting of Greek, Egyptian and Cypriot defence ministers on Nov. 12. 

Meanwhile Greece is proceeding with plans to upgrade its defence infrastructure, with Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos signing a contract worth 112 million euros to procure and upgrade submarine torpedoes from Germany.

After the deal is ratified, the torpedoes are to be delivered in phases from early 2021.

(A version of this article was originally published by Kathimerini and reproduced with permission. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.)