The visit of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Egypt this week is another confirmation of the excellent bilateral relations between Egypt and Greece. Cooperation between Egypt and Greece has gradually evolved to become a model partnership that extends over many fields and is based on mutual respect and identical national interests.
The Greek prime minister met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi after an official invitation extended by Egypt. The two leaders discussed issues of mutual interest and ways to enhance ties between the two countries. In November 2020, President Al-Sisi also visited Athens, highlighting the excellent level of cooperation on common challenges. During his visit to Egypt this week, the Greek prime minister also met with Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli, Coptic Pope Tawadros II and members of the historical Greek community of Egypt residing in Cairo and Alexandria.
The partnership between Egypt and Greece is not a conventional one. The two countries have steadily and decisively created a real power bloc in the Eastern Mediterranean based on diplomatic, military, financial and cultural ties. Two characteristic events of this cooperation have been the signing in August 2020 of the partial maritime demarcation deal establishing Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) in the region and the creation of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) at the initiative of Egypt and the participation of many other countries including France.
The two sides have repeatedly emphasised the need to cooperate with respect to the principles of international law, including the Law of the Sea and the principles of good neighbourhood. Egypt and Greece can now effectively move forward and introduce a new level to their partnership.
The EEZ Agreement signed in August between Egypt and Greece is a partial demarcation agreement, and it needs to be completed by full agreement by a new Egyptian-Greek agreement. This could coincide with an EEZ agreement between Greece and Cyprus, so that all three states will have cooperated in the delimitation of EEZs in the region. It is in the interest of Egypt to share sea borders with two member states of the European Union rather than with an unstable Turkey that does not fulfil its promises.
Greece supports Egypt on the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project, where unilateral actions by Ethiopia have led to considerable regional tension. Greece could help to adopt a diplomatic initiative in the context of the European Union to promote inter-state dialogue for a legally binding agreement on the water of the Nile. Concerning Libya, Greece fully accepts the framework for the future of Libya set by Egyptian diplomacy and agrees with Egypt on the immediate need for the removal of all foreign mercenaries and fighters from Libyan territory. Stability is essential for the rebuilding of the war-torn country and also for the greater stability of the region.
Egypt and Greece are indispensable allies in the Mediterranean, and their national interests coincide in many fields: EEZs and economic partnership, the internal situation in Libya, energy cooperation, the creation of a more stable geopolitical environment and EU external cooperation. The ties between Egypt and Greece are deep and ancient. Today, the two nations are moving ever closer together in the spirit of a true and model partnership controlling the strategic area of 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 24 June, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly