Egypt and Greece as geopolitical partners

Ioannis Kotoulas
Tuesday 23 Jan 2024

Egypt and Greece’s shared interests make them natural geopolitical and strategic partners in ensuring the stability and economic development of the region, writes Ioannis Kotoulas


Egypt and Greece are beacons of stability and responsible statecraft in the region, contrasting with the aggressive stance of other states that produces regional imbalance. The two countries share the same principles in their foreign policy that emphasise stability, non-interference, and historical justice.

Greek diplomacy is constantly upgrading its ties to Egypt. Last week, Greek Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis paid an official visit to Cairo, where he was received by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and met his counterpart Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri. In his comments at the meeting, President Al-Sisi underscored the significance of the strategic relations between the two countries, praising their coordination and cooperation on various issues and the Trilateral Cooperation Mechanism with Cyprus, a state with an ethnic Greek population.

Egypt’s Mediterranean borders connecting it with Greece and the rest of the EU have become increasingly important, especially in a period of increased instability to the west of Egypt (Libya), the east (Israel-Palestine) and the south (Sudan-Ethiopia). For Greece, Egypt is more than just a strategic partner; it is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Middle East and for the connection between the EU and the wider region.

The new challenges facing the two countries are also multifaceted, including the crisis in Gaza, the situation in Libya, and cooperation in the Mediterranean. Egypt and Greece share identical views on the crucial issues of the region.

Concerning the Gaza crisis, Egypt and Greece share common interests in maintaining stability and the status quo and controlling and avoiding the mass movement of displaced people. Both countries call for an immediate ceasefire to the conflict, reject any attempts at the displacement of the Palestinian population from their homeland, and favour the establishment of a functional independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. The evident danger of military escalation in the region on multiple fronts has to be addressed with responsibility.

The recent turmoil in the Red Sea also affects essential Egyptian and Greek interests. The Suez Canal, linking the Red Sea to the Mediterranean and Europe to Asia, is a focal point for world shipping, as 12 per cent of such traffic transits the canal. Egypt’s ownership of the Suez Canal makes it a natural strategic ally of Greece, a maritime nation with a strong footprint in international shipping.

Greek ship owners currently control 21 per cent of the world and 59 per cent of the EU merchant fleet and 32 per cent of the world’s fleet of oil tankers. The Greek port of Piraeus has become the most important European port in the Mediterranean and the fifth overall in Europe in terms of maritime traffic, especially after strategic cooperation was developed with China. The Suez Canal is the keystone of the Eurasian economic architecture linking the coastal economic centres of East Asia and India to Egypt and Europe. Secure ship traffic through the Red Sea is essential for both the Egyptian and the Greek economies.

The visit of the Greek foreign minister to Cairo highlighted the importance of the excellent bilateral ties between Egypt and Greece, as well as the need for the enhancement of this partnership, especially in the light of the serious challenges that have arisen in the region.

Cooperation can move decisively ahead. On the economic level, the electrical connection project between Egypt and Greece has already seen great progress and will soon be completed. Military cooperation continues through joint exercises and exchanges. As a guest lecturer at the Greek National Defence School, I was delighted to meet Egyptian officers and benefit from their insights. Egypt and Greece share the same interests concerning their maritime zones and have expanded their cooperation accordingly.

In an era of increased instability, regional conflicts, and unpredictable developments, regional cooperation marked by mutual respect is essential in safeguarding the international order and the national interests of our countries. This is the path that has been clearly chosen by Egypt and Greece as focal states in the greater region.

* The writer is adjunct lecturer in geopolitics at the University of Athens in Greece.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 25 January, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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