New Greek FM to visit Israel 2 weeks after taking office

Dendias told the Greek Parliament last week that, "For us, it is self-evident that there should be a stop to the drilling."

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July 28, 2019 09:25
1 minute read.
New Greek FM to visit Israel 2 weeks after taking office

Newly appointed Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias attends a handover ceremony in Athens, Greece, July 9, 2019. (photo credit: ELPIDA KAFANTARI/REUTERS)

New Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias is scheduled to arrive in Jerusalem Sunday just two weeks after being sworn in, on his second official visit abroad -- his first was to the US -- and one that underlines the significance that Athens attaches to its ties with Jerusalem.

The visit comes against a backdrop of tension in the Eastern Mediterranean due to Turkey sending gunboats accompanying Turkish drilling and exploration vessels searching for natural gas in Cyprus’ economic exclusion zone. The Turks claim the right to explore there, saying it belongs to Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, whose administration is only recognized by Ankara.

Dendias told the Greek Parliament last week that, “For us, it is self-evident that there should be a stop to the drilling.”

According to Greek media, the Greek Foreign Ministry said Dendias’ talks in Jerusalem will focus on deepening cooperation between Greece and Israel, tripartite projects with Cyprus, current developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, energy security, and Turkey’s activities in the region.

Dendias is scheduled to meet separately with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Foreign Minister Israel Katz. He is also slated to tour Yad Vashem and meet with Greek Holocaust survivors.

Dendias is scheduled to follow his trip to Israel in the coming days with a trip to Cyprus, accompanying the newly-elected Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Nicosia.

Greece’s Kathimerini newspaper reported that these contacts were “of particular importance for the next steps” in advancing the tripartite Israel-US-Cyprus cooperation with the US.

The US is showing increased interest in the growing alliance between the three Eastern Mediterranean countries, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo having participated in the last Israel-Greece-Cyprus summit held in March in Jerusalem.

Earlier this month, Mitsotakis – of the center-right New Democracy Party – defeated Alexis Tsipras. He is considered a strong friend of Israel and is expected to continue to expand and develop relations that have flowered between the two countries, and with Cyprus, since 2010.


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