Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus May 8, 2018.
(photo credit: YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU/REUTERS)
In a signal that Israel, Greece and Cyprus are moving from being good friends to forging an actual alliance, Cyprus is in the process of creating a permanent “secretariat” to monitor the implementation of trilateral projects, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades is expected to make reference of this development when he meets in Beersheba on Thursday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for their fifth trilateral meeting in just under three years.
The establishment of a secretariat, a development one source said “institutionalizes” the relationship and gives it a greater sense of permanence, comes as the US – increasingly concerned about Russia’s advances in the eastern Mediterranean – has expressed both heightened interest and support for Israeli, Greek and Cypriot cooperation.
US Ambassador David Friedman may participate in the trilateral meetings as well, diplomatic sources said, a gesture that would underline Washington’s support for this alliance.
Following the inaugural meeting of a US-Greece strategic dialogue last week in Washington, the State Department issued a statement saying that during that meeting Greece discussed its trilateral partnership in the eastern Mediterranean, “and the United States expressed interest in increasing its support for the Greece-Israel-Cyprus trilateral discussion, as invited.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after that meeting that the eastern Mediterranean is “an important strategic border. The US is working to strengthen our relations with stable democracies and democratic allies there. Allies like Greece and Cyprus and Israel.”
Washington, according to Greek media reports, is already examining the prospect of a four-way meeting between the US, Greece, Israel and Cyprus at the level of foreign ministers
Holding the upcoming trilateral meeting in Beersheba, where the leaders are expected to visit the Computer Emergency Response Team center, underlines a commitment to jointly face all threats, including cyber threats, one diplomatic official said.
The talks between the leaders are expected to touch on a wide range of issues, from cybersecurity, to moving forward the $7 billion plan to lay a gas pipeline from Israeli and Cypriot gas fields, through Crete, to Italy and further distribution throughout Europe.
The diplomatic official said the fact that this will be the fifth trilateral meeting in less than three years shows that a dynamic has been created in the relationship between the three countries that is “unstoppable,” and that this demonstrates that this is “not just a passing phase, but something here to stay, with strong roots.”
The official noted that frameworks have been created to enhance the relationship at all levels: government-to-government, military-to-military, business-to-business, and people-to-people.
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