Senator Robert Menendez: Greece is Ready to Play a Renewed Leadership Role in the Region

US Senator Robert Menendez (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

“Greece is getting back on its feet economically and ready to play a renewed leadership role in the region,” US Senator Robert Menendez said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) released on Saturday.

“The country emerged from the economic crisis with its democratic institutions intact, no small feat given the challenges,” he added.

Menendez underlined that the possibilities for energy, security cooperation and prosperity have never been brighter in the Eastern Mediterranean. “The opportunities to deepen security ties that bring peace, security and prosperity have never been more promising. The U.S. administration has taken important steps through the Strategic Dialogue with Greece, Letter of Intent with Cyprus and participation in the trilateral format among Greece, Israel and Cyprus. The Eastern Mediterranean Partnership and Security Act helps to put a congressional imprint on U.S. policy, in a way that shows bipartisan support for a robust Eastern Mediterranean strategy.

The full interview follows:

You have recently visited Greece and the region of Southeastern Europe. How do you see the geopolitical landscape being shaped in this region and what is the role of Greece?

I think that this is a very exciting time for the region. With the promising energy potential as well as the growing defense ties, the always strategically important Eastern Mediterranean region has only grown in significance. Greece is getting back on its feet economically and ready to play a renewed leadership role in the region. The country emerged from the economic crisis with its democratic institutions intact, no small feat given the challenges.

Earlier this month, I was proud to introduce the Eastern Mediterranean Partnership and Security Act with Senator Marco Rubio. The bill lifts the arms embargo on Cyprus, increases military training and assistance for Greece and express support for energy diversification in the Eastern Mediterranean. The time is right for renewed U.S. attention to the region and I hope that my legislation will help to kickstart this conversation.

US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt has stressed that relations between Greece and the United States are at their peak, historically, and improving further. What has contributed in recent years to the upgrading of the role of Greece and Cyprus in the strategic planning of the USA in the Southeast Mediterranean region?

The possibilities for energy, security cooperation and prosperity have never been brighter in the Eastern Mediterranean. The opportunities to deepen security ties that bring peace, security and prosperity have never been more promising. The U.S. administration has taken important steps through the Strategic Dialogue with Greece, Letter of Intent with Cyprus and participation in the trilateral format among Greece, Israel and Cyprus. The Eastern Mediterranean Partnership and Security Act helps to put a congressional imprint on U.S. policy, in a way that shows bipartisan support for a robust Eastern Mediterranean strategy.

How do you assess the course of the Greek-US Strategic Dialogue inaugurated last December and how can the momentum that has developed in the two countries’ relations be exploited? What are the prospects for further deepening bilateral relations?

I think that the prospects for deeper relations are quite good because our relationship is based on a shared values including respect of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. There are measures that we could take deeper our bilateral cooperation across the board, especially on security and counterterrorism. For example, I think that we should increase the opportunity for our servicemembers to train together – we increase funding for these programs through our bill.

I think that we also should consider ways to encourage U.S. private sector investment in Greece to assist in aiding the continued economic recovery. I am concerned that while Chinese investment in Greece may seem positive in the short-term, there are long term implications with respect to Chinese investments in infrastructure or IT that could impact the security and privacy of Greek citizens.

How does the discovery of large quantities of natural gas in Cyprus’ maritime region affect the role of Greece and Cyprus in Southeastern Europe?

The energy resource discoveries could have a very positive impact on energy security in the region and potentially on energy diversification in Europe. The Mediterranean Gas Forum is an important platform for these conversations across the region, and could perhaps contribute to constructive dialogue among the countries on other issues. I hope that the energy finds will prove to be significant enough to result the development of commercially viable energy infrastructure across the region. The Trans Adriatic Pipeline was an important proof of concept and I am glad to see that it will come online soon. I also believe that there is enormous potential for renewables in both Greece and Cyprus and hope that both countries will redouble their efforts to meet their environmental commitments as members of the EU.

Can the Turkish threats endanger the commercial extraction of Cyprus’ deposits? What are the expectations from Exxon-Mobil’s participation and how does the US view the Turkish threats?

Cyprus has the undeniable sovereign right to explore its own Exclusive Economic Zone, free from any outside interference. I am glad that American companies are involved in the exploration as it is an indication of U.S. commitment to the energy independence of the region.

Turkey insists on the purchase of the S-400 weapons system from Russia. The US has sent the message that in such a case, it will proceed with sanctions against Ankara. What form could such sanctions take?

Under the Countering America’s Adversaries Thought Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which I helped to write, anyone that conducts a significant transaction with the defense or intelligence sectors of the Russian Federation will be subjected to mandatory sanctions. This provision was written in response to the role of Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors in the attack on the 2016 U.S. election. If Turkey takes the delivery of the S400, it must be sanctioned. I hope that Turkey choses a different path because these sanctions would have a significant impact on Turkey’s defense sector and its ability to engage with the U.S.

Is it possible to soon resume the dialogue to resolve the Cyprus issue? Which do you think should be the key conditions for relaunching the talks?

I indeed look forward to the day when Cyprus will be one, a bizonal, bicommunal federation where all communities and faiths can live together in peace. I support a peace process on the terms set by both communities. And not determined or shaped by any outside power. The people of Cyprus, on both sides of the green line, should be allowed to determine their own future. Without undue influence from Ankara, an agreement could be reached.

2 Comments

  1. TNH and GREEK SECRET SOCIETY OF MASONS .continues to promote the surrender of Greece’s sovereignty to the new Persian empire of America in waging economic , political , and military war against the adversaries of America, not Greece’s

    TNH and Menendez.sells us on a U.S” leading from behind’ Eastern Mediterranean partnership with Israel, and suggests that China investments in Greece threaten the citizens of Greece, and reveal their plan to use Greece to wage economic warfare against their enemies! Menendez confesses…

    “Under the Countering “AMERICA’S ADVERSARIES” Thought Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which I helped to write, anyone that conducts a significant transaction with the defense or intelligence sectors of the Russian Federation will be subjected to mandatory sanctions. This provision was written in response to the role of Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors in the attack on the 2016 U.S. election.”

    There IS NO EVIDENCE OF Russian Collusion or Meddling in the U.S elections, ONLY COLLUSION AN MEDDLING BY THE LEADERS OF iSRAEL WITH MENENDEZ

    TNH join Menendez, the highest “pay to play” senator of the U.S.Congress by the Jewish pro israel lobbies to the tune of up to one millions dollars to exclusively represent the interests of the state of Israel!

    As partner in the Eastern Mediterranean partnership, if Greece or Cyprus buy oil, gas, and arms from Iran, Russia or Venezuela like Turkey, they will be sanctioned by the U.S.!

    Sick!

    1. “Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
      . . .
      The truth is in the eyes.” –The Temptations

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