By Tom Ellis, kathimerini
At this difficult juncture in relations between Greece and Turkey, the Greek-American community played its own decisive role in the adoption into law by the US Congress of the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act, known as the East Med Act. By doing so, it has strengthened the position of Athens and Nicosia.
With this act, Washington is formally conveying the message that it is no longer basing its strategy in the region having Turkey at the forefront, but that it is investing in the area of diplomacy and energy on the trilateral cooperation scheme comprised of Greece, Cyprus and Israel, which is acquiring a vital role in the formulation of the US security policy in the region.
With East Med having been adopted, the leaders of Greece, Cyprus and Israel will be on even more solid geopolitical ground when they meet in Athens in a few days to sign the trilateral agreement – with the prospect of Italy soon joining in – for the construction of the East Med natural gas pipeline.
This is a huge project. If it is deemed technically feasible and economically viable, it will go ahead. There is also the prospect that the gas will be transferred by LNG (liquified natural gas) ships. Depending on the quantities involved, the two transportation paths might prove supplementary. In any case, the message conveyed by this agreement is a loud one and its geopolitical symbolism is clear.
The Hellenic American Leadership Council, in close cooperation with the American Jewish Committee, exerted considerable influence in the process that led to the adoption of the act by the US Congress. With access to both Democrats and Republicans, the Greek and Jewish communities have further opened the gates of cooperation; they will be difficult to close.
Athens, Nicosia, as well as American supporters of the East Med Act point out that this law, which also stipulates the lifting of the embargo on the supply of American weapons to Cyprus, is not some kind of anti-Turkish move but rather reflects the new reality of multilevel cooperation that the US has with credible partners such as Greece, Cyprus and Israel, and western-oriented Arab countries like Egypt and Jordan.
In that context, it is no coincidence that in recent weeks the Greek foreign minister has traveled to Cairo and Amman.
At a time when Greece is becoming active on a regional level to bolster its strategic role, it has the good fortune of having a diaspora community which has proven to be extremely useful.