This is the second day of the two-day conference organised by the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) and the American Jewish Council (AJC), with a focus on promoting issues related to the two communities.
The conference celebrates the 5th anniversary of the founding of the Congressional Hellenic Israel Alliance (CHIA). CHIA consists of a group of deputies joining forces in 2013 to further promote cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel through the activities of the US Congress.
The three key issues addressed by the HALC and AJC representatives were the lifting of the embargo on the sale of American arms in Cyprus, the freezing of the delivery of the F-35 fighter aircraft to Turkey, and the further development of Israel’s diplomatic relations with other countries, on the occasion of the country’s 70th anniversary of independence.
The majority of members of Congress seemed to agree that Turkey is playing a destabilizing role in the southeastern Mediterranean and that it’s necessary to continue efforts for further development of diplomatic relations of Israel since a considerably large number of countries still does not recognize its existence. However, a small minority expressed reservations about lifting the embargo on Cyprus, arguing that such a move could further disrupt the already tense US relations with Turkey.
In this respect, HALC and AJC members argued that Cyprus was forced to resort to the Russian defense industry for arms, which led to an increase in Russian influence on the island, and recalled the considerable help that the country has offered to the war against terrorism, which seemed to spur the interest of Republican politicians in particular.
HALC Executive Director Eddie Zeemidis explained that the Greek-Israeli Alliance in Congress now places Greek issues on a wider basis, linking them directly with national security issues at the heart of American political interest.
“The cooperation and joint initiatives of the AJC and HALC are very important because they place Greek national issues within a broader framework. We do not consider them exclusively Greek issues. In this broader context their importance for US national security becomes more apparent. As we observed in our panels, the greatest challenges for the US in the region will probably not be solved if Greece, Cyprus and Israel do not play some role,” noted Zemenides.