A wind of change has taken over the East Mediterranean Sea. The U.S. interests in the region appear to coincide with Greece and Cyprus. Undeniably, Turkey’s relations with the U.S. have reached at their lowest ebb. Athens and Nicosia have already conceived this strategic development and have taken steps to use it to their own advantage. Greece and Cyprus have entered into constructive partnerships with Israel and Egypt. Together the four littoral states create a new geopolitical map in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
The Trilateral Summit
A concrete message will be given to Ankara from the joint statement issued the forthcoming Wednesday 20 March in the aftermath of the trilateral summit between Greece, Cyprus and Israel. The trilateral summit will also be attended by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In the summit statement, it would be underscored for once again that Ankara’s threats would not be accepted. In other words, the direct message to Turkey will be that Cyprus interests in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea will be duly protected.
The trilateral summit takes place at a time when U.S. relations with Turkey have progressively worsened. These realities are also complemented by parallel underlying political developments which relate to energy security considerations. France, for example, has undertaken the tender process through a joint private-public partnership scheme to construct a new naval base at Mari Cyprus.
Meanwhile, Paris and Berlin seek to mobilise the E.U. Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) initiative in the field of security and defence policies. PESCO will assume duties in the infrastructural modernisation of Cyprus security capabilities and defence industry. German officials will arrive in the Cypriot republic in due course. U.S. officials have already assessed the operational capabilities of Larnaca and Pafos International Airports.
The presence of the U.S. Secretary of State at the trilateral summit and the agenda of discussions will be among the political highlights in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea next week. The U.S. delegation does not aspire to become the fourth member in the trilateral summit. It would be present in Tel Aviv as an ad hoc observer to supervise developments and deliberations on regional energy and security issues. Washington’s presence nonetheless in the summit will signal to third parties that any hindrances put into the trilateral summit’s operational plans will be met with forcible response. This message is undeniably directed to Ankara as well.
Cyprus – U.S. Deliberations
The President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades will have the opportunity within the fringes of the summit to meet directly with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. This meeting will be of foremost importance and will delineate the next steps in the November 2018 statement between the two countries’ foreign ministers to deepen Nicosia’s ties with Washington. The agenda of the meeting will deal with a number of topics including among others issues of energy and maritime security.
Further, the two parties may discuss for once again the potential lifting of U.S. weapons embargo towards the Cypriot Republic. It has to be mentioned at this stage that President Anastasiades will also be introduced to the newly assigned U.S. Ambassador in Nicosia, Judith Garber, and prepare the next steps for the President’s eventual visit to Washington, scheduled to take place by the end of March.