Greek envoy: Israel-Greece ties remain unchanged

Ambassador reassures strategic ties between Athens, J'lem won't change following resumption of Israeli ties with Turkey.

Netanyahu with former Greek PM George Papandreou 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis)
Netanyahu with former Greek PM George Papandreou 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis)
Greece’s relations with Israel are strong and stable and will not change with the beginning of an Israeli-Turkish rapprochement, Greece’s new ambassador to Israel said on Thursday.
Spiros Lambridis, Athens’s new envoy to Israel, said that “regardless of what Israel does with Turkey, we have a strategic relationship that is autonomous and has nothing to do with Turkey.”
Lambridis said the Israeli-Turkish rapprochement will hopefully take hold and lead to regional stability. “The more tranquility in the region, the better,” he said.
Israel’s relations with Turkey’s historic rival Greece skyrocketed following the breakdown in ties with Ankara after the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, and included stepped-up economic, tourist, political and military cooperation. The same was true of Israel’s relations with another historic Turkish foe, Cyprus.
Israel and Greece are scheduled to hold their first government-to-government meeting in a few months in Athens, a meeting the ambassador said is a sign the countries want a continued “fruitful bilateral relationship.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on Saturday with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the day after he called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologize for operational errors that might have led to the loss of life on the Mavi Marmara.
Lambridis said his assumption was that Netanyahu and Samaras discussed the situation with Turkey, and that the message was that Greek-Israeli ties would continue to grow and develop.
Meanwhile, Israel also took efforts this week to reassure Cyprus that a closer relationship with Ankara would not come at the expense of Jerusalem’s ties with Nicosia.
The Cyprus Mail this week quoted Israeli Deputy Ambassador Shani Cooper as saying that the “the normalization of relations between Turkey and Israel was an important bilateral step but it will not affect any multilateral, trilateral or bilateral relations between Israel and other countries. Israel will maintain its close relations with Cyprus, and continue strengthening them as we have done the last few years.”
The paper on Thursday quoted Cypriot Commerce Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis as saying Netanyahu’s apology “was anticipated.”
“I assure you we are monitoring the situation and we will secure our state’s sovereign rights,” Lakkotrypis said, amid concern in Cyprus that closer Israeli-Turkish ties will lead to more collaboration between those countries regarding hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean, and less Israeli-Cypriot cooperation on the issue.
Lakkotrypis is due to visit Israel next month, followed a month later by newly elected Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.