Saturday, 12 October 2013

On a federation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel

This week Greece’s PM Antonis Samaras made a high-profile visit to Israel for an inter-governmental meeting where the burgeoning relations between Greece and Israel were evaluated (see video above). In light of these developments, Giorgios Malouchos, writing in To Vima, called for a federation between Greece, Israel and Cyprus. The piece, which I’ve translated into English below (read original here), is a little far fetched and here are some problems with Malouchos’ vision that immediately struck me. 

First, what exactly what does Malouchos mean by a ‘federation’? Surely, he doesn’t mean a political union.

Second, Syriza, which has a chance of forming a government in Greece in the near future, trapped by its anti-Zionism and fetishisation of the Palestinian cause, is instinctively hostile to Israel, meaning Israel must harbour serious doubts as to the long-term prospects of Greece being a reliable partner.

Third, Turkey, concerned by developments in the Eastern Mediterranean – not only the budding Greece-Israel-Cyprus axis but also the prospects of Greece-Egypt-Cyprus or even a Greece-Egypt-Israel-Cyprus axis – is making noise about reaching a Cyprus settlement as soon as possible. Of course, what Turkey means by a Cyprus settlement is something akin to the Annan plan, which would allow the Turkish Cypriots to use the powers they would acquire in a federated Cyprus to project Turkey’s interests, for example by vetoing any Cypriot participation in alliances involving Israel and/or Egypt.

A federation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel
By Giorgios Malouchos

Even if it’s been greatly delayed, Greek policy shows that it has at last realised the obvious: that relations between Greece and Israel shouldn’t only become closer as quickly as possible but should reach the point of an alliance; an alliance, indeed, that goes beyond deep co-operation and embraces the logic of a confederation or, why not, a federation.

A Mediterranean alliance between Greece, Cyprus and Israel will change everything for all concerned. Nothing divides the three countries. There exist no conflicts or rivalries. In fact, much unites them, with each country able to add something to the other and, together, to the whole.

A federation will allow the three states to jointly secure the exploitation of the massive hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean. Thus, while Israel, arguably, has the best airforce in the world, its navy is less adequate. Greece’s navy, on the other hand, has the potential to become the most powerful in the region.

Also, Israel lacks strategic depth, something which Cyprus and Greece can offer it.

The strategic unification of an area that stretches from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Adriatic, will bring unprecedented developments with wide ramifications.

Furthermore, the Jewish and Greek diasporas, if they work in a deep and systematic way in pursuit of common goals, will emerge as key players in shaping American policy in the region.

At the same time, Greece, a member of NATO and the EU, would be able to extend its support to Israel in these forums.

Naturally, apart from an alliance in the energy field, there exists enormous potential for wider economic co-operation.

Grand politics today mean exactly this: will Greece dare to go down new roads that lead to new possibilities? Will Greece make a leap forward, act dynamically, change the agenda, and assert its capabilities? The creation of this triple alliance – perhaps even this federation – will contribute like nothing else to a reinvigorated Greece.

Do we dare, or will we remain satisfied with words and half-measures?