Connect with us

Europe

Geopolitics and strategy drive Greece-US relations

Avatar photo

Published

on

A new era has unfolded in Greece-United States relations that are based on common democratic values and shared interests. The bilateral relationship is strategic, multifaceted and is bound to expand in the years to come. The promotion of a solid defense cooperation and the support of a secure East Mediterranean constitute major pillars of the relationship affirming the strong commitment of the two countries to the region.  

The 3+1 partnership between Greece, Israel, Cyprus, and the United States falls within the Eastern Mediterranean context. This multilateral partnership has been sealed by the East Mediterranean Security and Partnership Act of 2019, known as East Med Act, that was signed into law by the American President and foresees cooperation on maritime security, energy initiatives, the establishment of the United States-Eastern Mediterranean Energy Center and the rejection of interference by other countries in Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone and Greece’s airspace.

As it is explicitly highlighted in the East Med Act, the United States government supports the deepening of energy security cooperation among Greece, Cyprus and Israel, and encourages the private sector to make investments in energy infrastructure across the East Mediterranean including the establishment of liquified natural gas terminals.

Upgrade of Strategic Dialogue

In the strictly bilateral context, Greece and the United States have enhanced engagement through the bilateral Strategic Dialogue inaugurated in 2018 that includes all major pillars of the Greek-American partnership with most prevailing energy, investment, defense, people-to-people contacts, and education.

The third round of the Strategic Dialogue was conducted in October 2021 and hailed important new American investments in the technology and digital sectors of Greece after the signing of the Greece-United States Science and Technology agreement and the removal of Greece from the USTR 301 Watch List. On the economic side, it is noteworthy that American Congress has expanded the mandate of the International Development Finance Corporation to facilitate investment by American companies in Greece.  Large new investments by American companies like Microsoft, Pfizer, Cisco expand the scope of Greek-American cooperation.

The 3rd round of the Strategic Dialogue also underscored the significance of the peaceful settlement of differences and the respect of international law as the guiding principles to good neighborly relations. A revised Greece-United States Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) was signed on the sidelines of the Strategic Dialogue, and it is conceded as the bedrock of the bilateral defense cooperation. The revised MDCA reflects the long-term, deepening and expanding aspects of the strategic defense partnership and Greece’s geostrategic importance to regional stability and peace. It is upon this basis that the MDCA contains a mutual defense clause that affirms both countries’ firm determination to mutually safeguard and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each other against actions threatening to peace including an armed attack or a threat of use of force against either country.

A Defense Shield for Greece

The specific provision can be interpreted as a clear message to Ankara that Washington will stand by Athens in confronting Turkey’s aggressive acts in the Aegean and the East Mediterranean Seas and in confronting the threat of war with Greece, if the latter were to exercise its right under international law and extend its territorial waters from six to twelve nautical miles.

The agreement also allows American forces to train in additional locations throughout Greece and provides the proper context for the United States to invest defensively in Greece at a time when Washington withdraws from other parts of the region. What one can see in the amended agreement is the transformation of Alexandroupolis located in the broader region of Thrace into a new Souda-like facility as it allows the stationing and movement of American forces and the cementing of an emerging axis toward Bulgaria. Bulgaria has notably become highly valuable for Washington’s and NATO’s strategic planning as an alternative route to the Straits of Bosphorus given the importance of the Black Sea.

The infrastructure around Alexandroupolis will allow the stationing of American forces and speaks itself for the region’s strategic importance. For example, an energy pipeline that currently runs from Elefsina, northwest of Athens to Kavala in northern Greece, is scheduled to extend to Alexandroupolis and from there to Bulgaria with NATO funding so that American forces can refuel. Also important is the railway connection of the Port of Alexandroupolis with Bulgaria. Overall, the upgraded Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement secures Greek national interests and creates a defense shield for Greece.

Greek Acquisition of F-35s

Greece has become, a real positive example to the region, and a country which has demonstrated its commitment to investing in its cooperative relationship with the United States. The critical role that Greece plays as a source and provider of solutions in the East Mediterranean is acknowledged by American congress in consecutive bipartisan legislative activity. The US-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Act of 2021 co-sponsored by Democratic Senator Robert Menendez and Republican Senator Marco Rubio bolsters the Greece-United States relationship.

The Act is incorporated in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2022 thus ensuring that its provisions are satisfied. Notably, the Act specifies that Washington should continue to deepen strong partnerships with the Greek military, especially in co-development and co-production opportunities with the Greek Navy. It also recognizes that the naval partnership with Greece at Souda Bay and Alexandroupolis is mutually beneficial to the national security of the United States and Greece. In addition, the Act foresees the delivery of excess defense articles to Greece on the same priority basis given to other countries in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 during fiscal years 2022 through 2026.

The Act makes concrete reference to the sale of the fifth generation F–35 Joint Strike Fighter jets to Greece especially those F–35 aircrafts produced for but never delivered to Turkey because of Ankara’s exclusion from the program due to its purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system. The acquisition of F-35 Joint Strike fighter jets by Greece in conjunction with the upgrade of the F-16s of the Hellenic Airforce and the Greek acquisition of French Rafale fighter aircrafts, will undoubtedly increase Greek defense capabilities thus practically shielding Greece against military actions, especially in the Aegean and the East Mediterranean Seas.

It is with no doubt that in response to growing challenges and opportunities in the East Mediterranean, Greece and the United States have deepened their bilateral relationship and increased multilateral engagement with Cyprus and Israel. As the region’s geopolitical ground continues to be shifting rapidly, this is a path they will continue to pursue for the safeguarding of their national security and with an eye on their shared commitment to peace and stability.

Antonia Dimou is Head of the Middle East Unit at the Institute for Security and Defense Analyses, Greece; and, an Associate at the Center for Middle East Development, University of California, Los Angeles

Continue Reading
Comments

Europe

Baerbock has publicly declared ‘a war against Russia’

Published

on

image source: Wikimedia Commons

On January 25 Germany and the United States decided to provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 and Abrams tanks totaling 45 (respectively: 14 + 31). Some European countries also intend to join these supplies that could reach around 300 main battle and light tanks during this year. The Pentagon official confirmed that collected ‘the armor basket’ could include 300 tanks and ACV/APC during 2023. It will be 28th ‘basket’ of lethal military supplies of the transatlantic alliance to Ukraine that started on a massive scale in 2022.

– Unlike fascist Germany, current Germany openly declared a war against Russia on January 25. Arguing in favor of sending NATO tanks and ACV/APC to Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said EU countries were fighting a war against Russia. US and EU officials have previously gone out of their way to claim ‘they were not a party to the conflict in Ukraine’.

This is a quotation from what Baerbock has stated at PACE. “And therefore, I’ve said already in the last days – yes, we have to do more to defend Ukraine. Yes, we have to do more also on tanks,” Baerbock said during a debate at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on January 25. “But the most important and the crucial part is that we do it together and that we do not do the blame game in Europe, because

so far from the German Government, it means that her statement is fully shared by the FRG Government we are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other.”

If she has not been sacked and the Parliament.

It also means that the FRG has radically changed its foreign policy and once again is unleashing the next World War – the Third one.

It means that German tanks again will appear in Ukraine and Russia like in 1941-1945.

It also means that pro-Nazi coalition supports ultra-nationalist regime in Kiev that began its own and unprovoked aggression – initially against Donbass in April 2014, and later against Russia in October 2022.

It means that since January 25, 2023 current joint Ukrainian-NATO actions in Ukraine can be politically and juridically labelled as “a declared direct combined Ukrainian-NATO aggression against the Russian Federation”.

Russia angrily reacted to such abnormal statement. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that tank supplies to Ukraine by Western countries testify their direct and growing involvement in their armed conflict. He added that the flow of western weapons to Ukraine does not help potential negotiations between Moscow and Kiev.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that any shipments containing weapons for Ukraine would become a lawful target for Russian forces,

The Russian Embassy in Germany for its part warned that “this extremely dangerous decision [by Berlin] shifts the Ukrainian conflict to a new level of standoff.”

All five parliamentary political parties at the Russian State Duma are demanding from the highest military and political structures in the country to destroy all Ukrainian-NATO heavy weapons – not only at the front lines, but additionally and primarily near Ukrainian-NATO border as soon as such weapons cross it on land, in the air and at sea.

Such destruction will save a lot of innocent lives amongst civilians and military men.

– Moscow has also cautioned NATO and non-NATO members against supplying Ukraine with depleted uranium munitions (DUM) and with long-range weaponry capable of striking at cities deep within Russian territory.

Supplying Ukraine with DUM for western military hardware would be regarded by Moscow as the use of “dirty bombs,” said Konstantin Gavrilov, head of the Russian delegation to the Vienna Negotiations on Military Security and Arms Control. Speaking at a plenary meeting of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation in the capital of Austria Vienna, Gavrilov cautioned “western sponsors of Kiev’s war machine” against encouraging “nuclear provocations and blackmail.”

“We know that Leopard 2 tanks, as well as Bradley and Marder armored fighting vehicles, can use depleted uranium shells, which can contaminate terrain, just like it happened in Yugoslavia and Iraq,” he said. “If Kiev were to be supplied with such munitions for the use in western heavy military hardware, we would regard it as the use of ‘dirty nuclear bombs’ against Russia, with all the consequences that entails.”

Gavrilov also warned that Moscow will retaliate if the West were to supply Kiev with long-range weaponry to carry out strikes against Russian cities. “If Washington and NATO countries provide Kiev with weapons for striking against the cities deep inside the Russian territory and for attempting to seize our constitutionally affirmed territories, it would force Moscow to undertake harsh retaliatory actions. Do not say that we did not warn you,” he remarked.

– Ex-President Donald Trump called on Joseph Biden to end ‘crazy’ Ukraine conflict before it leads to the use of nuclear weapons.

“First come the tanks, then come the nukes. Get this crazy war ended, now. So easy to do,” Trump outlined.

International Affairs

Continue Reading

Europe

Davos more of a show, no longer so important

Avatar photo

Published

on

“Davos has become more of a show, it’s no longer so important”, concluded Liviu Muresan from Eurodefense Romania at the end of the webinar recently jointly organized by Eurodefense Romania and the Bucharest-based MEPEI think-tank. In the aftermath of the Davos World Economic Forum, 20 key-note speakers invited to examine this year’s edition did not hesitate to cast a critical eye upon the outcome and some of them were very straightforward in assessing this year’s  WEF.

Adrian Severin, former Romanian minister of foreign affairs, gave a remarkable definition to the Davos WEF:  “something between mythology and reality because politicians come to Davos to look for intellectual validation and economic support, corporatists come to look for intellectual respectability and political assets, civil activists seek kinship with the political power and financial sponsorship. They make a network of self-legitimized supra-national power that combines the characteristics of occult interest groups, influence groups that associate oligarchic cynicism with democratic hypocrisy. A group of self- proclaimed prophets, self-confirming their prophecies.”

Experienced in foreign policy, Severin could identify new approaches during the Forum, so he portrayed in detail “the Davos WEF that turned from an incubator of ideas into a platform for launching messages and trial balloons, from a doctrinal workshop into a ballroom…from a political designer into a moral whistle-blower ….from a producer of doctrines into a producer of dogmas…from the champion of missionary realism into athlete of utopias ….from a platform of dialogue into a platform of war propaganda…from a believer in globalization into a promoter of globalism…from a follower of inclusion into a promoter of exclusion….Davos is at risk of losing popularity and political failure, it no longer solves problems, it either deepens the existing crisis or generates new crises .”

Severin argued that “this year’s edition was significant through the absences rather than through the presences because only Olaf Scholtz was present this year out of the G7 leaders….Russia and China were absent….The president of the European Commission has become a US ventriloquist , no longer representative of the European Union that is neither  Union, and no longer European…The main representatives of the US were absent. Those present discussed everything but the risk of having the world fractured into two blocks with incompatible cultural identities, with the Euro-Atlantic block increasingly weaker than the Indo-Pacific block and the Euro-African-South-American block…the discussion about green energy and other similar topics  is nonsense as long as solutions are not presented.”

Severin believes that the main concern should be “to stop the war in Ukraine and to normalize the dialogue between the Euro-Atlantic and the Euro-Asian blocks”, especially because this year’s theme was “Cooperation in a fragmented world”.

The most inspirational speech was given by Antonio Gutierez, the head of United Nations Organization, who referred indeed to the fragmented world, but Severin pointed to the fact that Antonio Gutierez gave such a speech in Davos and not in the UN in New York or Geneva, a sign of the failure of the UN, which means that the UN and the OSCE must be revived.

General Corneliu Pivariu, former head of the Romanian Military Intelligence, stressed that the Davos meeting actually does not solve any problem of the world. It speaks every year about economic inequalities without solving that, doing every year nothing else than acknowledging the deepening of inequalities. For instance, according to Credit Suisse, between December 2019  and December 2021, the global wealth increased with 42 trillion USD but 26 trillion USD belonged to the 1% richest population, and 16% to the rest of 99% of the world’s population. Another topic is global warming, which is also never curbed, and an Oxfam report released in November 2022 revealed that a billionaire’s annual emissions of CO2 are one million times higher than a person in the 90% of the world’s population.

Carlos Branco, senior analyst with the National Defense Institute in Portugal, confirmed that Davos meeting did not find solutions to the world’s problems. He reminded that, in Davos, Ursula Von Der Leyen, Olaf Scholtz and other leaders spoke of the need to make Europe independent in terms of energy but they did not explain how exactly Europe will manage to provide itself commodities and raw materials, since Europe currently has 37 strategic dependencies out of which 2% from China and 3% from Russia, while the new technologies will still make Europe dependent on Asia. “The future of Europe will depend on how it will position itself in relation to the advanced technologies, Artificial Intelligence,  a.s.o., but for the moment, Europe is trapped.”

As an outstanding expert on Asia, Viorel Isticioaia Budura, former Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific at the European External Action Service and former Romanian ambassador in China and Japan, pointed to the absence of many G7 leaders in Davos as well as of Asian leaders, among which China, which is “the beauty and Miss Universe of the world’s interdependency”, and mentioned the presence of many Asian business people in Davos this year, while reminding of the importance of Asian countries and of the three high-level summits organized in Asia last year, G20, APEC and ASEAN, and of what Anthony Blinken, the US secretary of state, called “the rest of the world”, namely, Asian countries that do not follow the Euro-Atlantic order but have become a significant part of the global economy. Isticioaia Budura wondered if the “re-globalization of the supply chains would be possible” and declared China “the champion and the promoter of globalization.”

Michael Zinkanell director of the Austrian Institute for European and Security, Vienna, expressed his opinion that “we a living in a bipolar world dominated by the US and China while Russia has no ability to project global power, and some clear conclusions after the Davos meeting are that instability is increasing in the world, the world is becoming more and more interconnected and energy independence and decarbonisation are very important for the future”.  Zinkanell sees natural disasters and socio-economic risks as the main concerns for the future, but also the interactions with some authoritarian countries that are trying to lead in this new multipolar world that will allow multilateralism.

Germano Dottori, editor of the Italian Geopolitical magazine, also agreed that Davos meeting became too politicized and not too useful but he sees the prospects for the future of the world “not so bleak like a few months ago.”

Flavius Caba Maria, president of MEPEI, the Bucharest-based think-tank that co-organized the webinar, expert on the MENA region, mentioned a few aspects among which that fact that the representatives of oil and gas companies were welcomed at Davos, unlike Glasgow, which is a sign that renewables cannot entirely meet the energy needs of humanity.

On the other hand, Caba Maria pointed to the BRICS countries and his remarks could be seen as complementary to the idea mentioned by several speakers that the Western institutions seem to have lost their ability to solve the global problems and to ensure economic equality.

Caba Maria emphasized that “the global South is establishing its own system of alliances, turning them into a source to transform global economy, thus creating a development alternative trend, different from the one promoted by the West, with three regional alliances looming: the African Union, the Community of Latin American States and Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Eurasia. Among all these countries, China stands out and everything that’s going on in China is of utmost interest for the other countries, because it has become the world’s largest economy.”

Facts to keep in mind for the organizers of next Davos meetings.

Continue Reading

Europe

Serbia must reject the ultimatum regarding Kosovo

Avatar photo

Published

on

Photo: Presidency of Serbia / Dimitrije Goll

The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic on January 20th  had a meeting with the Western negotiating team about the solution for Kosovo. European mediator Miroslav Lajcak, American envoy Gabriel Escobar, German and French special advisers Jens Ploetner and Emmanuel Bonne as well as Italian prime minister’s adviser Mario Talo once again discussed with the leaders of Serbia (and Kosovo) the plan(ultimatum) that should regulate relations between Belgrade and Pristina. Officially, the plan for a peaceful solution has not been presented to the public. However, Serbian media published the text of the plan and they clearly emphasize that it is an ultimatum from Quinta.  And what is even more important, no one from the Government of Serbia denied it.

Which clearly tells us that the Government of Serbia is releasing the plan(ultimatum) as a trial balloon. However, that decision turned out to be wise, because the reactions of the citizens of Serbia to the plan were more than clear on the point of view that the plan was unacceptable. Because that agreement, among other things, requires that Serbia in practice (de facto) recognize the violent secession of its own Province that is, allow Kosovo to join the United Nations.

The plan compiled by the advisers of the leaders of the two largest democracies in Europe – French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz – represents a gross violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, the basic principles of democratic international relations, the UN Charter, and the OSCE Final Document.

The plan(ultimatum) for Kosovo, humiliates Serbia and the Serbian people by ordering that Serbia respect equality, sovereignty, territorial integrity and the so-called state symbols of Kosovo and all other countries, except it`s own sovereignty, territorial integrity and it`s internationally recognized borders confirmed by the UN, OSCE and other international organizations. Serbia is expected to cooperate in dismantling its own integrity, its own constitutional order and international reputation, so that no one could use the “Kosovo case” as a precedent for unilateral secessions, which primarily refers to Ukraine.

The fact that currently five members of the European Union (Spain, Romania, Slovakia, Greece and Cyprus) and four members of NATO do not recognize the independence of Kosovo shows how bad the acceptance of the plan would be for Serbia. The goal is also to place all responsibility for the victims and destruction on Serbia, as a victim of the NATO aggression in 1999, and to use this act to justify the aggression against Serbia, which was carried out against the international law.

Kosovo is not a frozen conflict, as claimed in the West and repeated by official Belgrade, nor it can be resolved by an ultimatum to Serbia. The best example of this is Cyprus, which was invaded by Turkey in 1974, and despite this, neither Turkey nor Cyprus (or Greece) agree to any ultimatums, nor does anyone give them. The question must be asked here, how is it possible for Quinta to issue an ultimatum to Serbia and why are the Serbian Government and the President of Serbia allowing it?!

The Serbian Government must apply new tactics

Negotiations on Kosovo with Quinta must first be conducted on essential matters. And that means, above all, the protection of the current Serbian population in Kosovo and the return of the 250,000 expelled Serbs. Regulating the status of Serbian state property in Kosovo, which was seized by the separatist government in the province. Plus, the return of stolen property to the Serbs, who were forcibly expelled from the province.

Also, bearing in mind the aggressive policy of the Kosovo separatists, who, contrary to the agreement with NATO, are sending special units to the north of the province, while perpetrating violence against the Serbs, a new strategy is needed. And this is primarily reflected in the fact that the Government of Serbia must help establish the Republika Srpska in the north of Kosovo. This means that the local Serbs would have their own police(including a special police unit), judiciary, prosecutor’s office, education, health care and control over border crossings. In other words, parity would be established in the armed forces, bearing in mind that it is not realistic to expect that Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic will ever approve the sending of the Serbian Army to Kosovo. In this way, Serbia would strategically strengthen its positions and would wait for a change on the geopolitical scene of the world, until favorable conditions are created for the full return of the southern Serbian province of Kosovo to Serbia.

Otherwise, if Serbian Government agree to Kosovo’s entry into the United Nations, it would mean that Kosovo could unite with Albania, about which Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti also publicly spoke about. This would than open the issue of secession from Serbia of the Presevo Valley and the geographical region of Sandzak. And what is even more important, an incredibly strong pressure to abolish Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina would begin. All of the above would have catastrophic consequences for the country of Serbia, but also for the entire Balkans.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Environment1 hour ago

The Green Deal Industrial Plan: putting Europe’s net-zero industry in the lead

Commission presents a Green Deal Industrial Plan to enhance the competitiveness of Europe’s net-zero industry and support the fast transition...

World News3 hours ago

Russia restored Syrian air base for joint use

Russia and Syria have restored the ‘Al-Jarrah’ military air base in Syria’s north to be jointly used, Russia’s Defence Ministry...

World News5 hours ago

NATO tanks for Ukraine provoke contradictions in the alliance

After a drawn-out back and forth between Ukraine, the U.S. and European NATO countries, the first deliveries of Western-made tanks...

Economy7 hours ago

Friend-shoring: India’s rising attractiveness for an emerging partnership

There are numerous forces currently affecting investment flows in the global climate for foreign investment. Investor concern has been caused...

Middle East9 hours ago

The role of Guangdong Province in the Egypt – China relationship

For the past few years, Egypt-China bilateral trade has witnessed a big leap where Egypt has opened up its markets...

Economy12 hours ago

Pakistan’s elite and the current economic crisis

Former Pakistan Finance Minister Miftah Ismail in a media interview made some very interesting points. While Ismail lashed out at...

Science & Technology14 hours ago

New discoveries and scientific advances from around the world

In July 2022 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the first batch of colour photos taken by the...

Trending