Egypt and Greece often face similar challenges related to the environment and the security of their states and populations. Cooperation between the two countries against geophysical and geopolitical challenges is proof of the deeply rooted ties between Egypt and Greece.
Over the last week, Greece has faced a series of dangerous wildfires that have raged in various parts of the country, fanned by strong winds and supported by a difficult mountainous terrain with limited access and dry weather conditions. More than 200 fires have appeared across the country, with the main fronts being located north of the greater Athens area, Greece’s densely populated capital city, on the island of Evia, and in the south and southwest of the Peloponnese in the regions of Ilis, Messinia, and Mani.
A dangerous front has erupted near Olympia, the historical site of the ancient Olympic Games. Currently, the major front in Attica near Athens has been contained, thus allowing for the more efficient relocation of fire brigade forces to the other ongoing fronts. Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes after coordinated efforts by the Greek authorities that have coped with the fires with success while avoiding casualties among the civilian population.
In this dark hour for Greece, Egypt under President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has promptly responded to this emergency, demonstrating its solidarity and the spirit of excellent cooperation between the two countries. The Egyptian Armed Forces have dispatched two Chinook helicopters to Greece to participate in the ongoing efforts of the Greek authorities to extinguish the fires.
These two helicopters are manned with double crews and are equipped with all the most modern equipment and advanced systems to help the ailing Greek side. This important initiative is the result of directives issued by President Al-Sisi as supreme commander of the Egyptian Armed Forces to support all friendly countries in times of crisis, according to an official accompanying statement.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri had earlier contacted his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias for an initial estimation of the situation in Greece. Shoukri stressed Egypt’s solidarity with the friendly people of Greece during these difficult times, expressing his confidence in the Greek authorities’ ongoing efforts to contain the blazes, according to a statement by Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Hafez.
All that matters in life is action. Egypt with its altruistic and effective assistance to Greece has once again proved its dynamic presence in the Mediterranean and its commitment to stand by a friendly state in its hour of need. Environmental challenges and security concerns often extend beyond the borders of a single state and require joint coordinated efforts, especially between like-minded states.
Egypt and Greece are indispensable allies in the Mediterranean, and their national interests coincide in many fields — geopolitical, energy-related, and, of course, relating to threats emanating from the environment. The wildfires in Greece and the ongoing dispute with Ethiopia over the water of the Nile in Egypt are such cases. Cooperation between Egypt and Greece in these and other areas can advance the national interests of each and secure stability in the Mediterranean.
The writer is a lecturer in geopolitics at the University of Athens in Greece.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 12 August, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly