ATHENS – “Greece and Israel have forged a strategic relationship based on strong friendship and our common vision for the creation of an environment of security, stability and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the wider region,” stated Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos on Friday, after his meeting with his Israeli counterpart and deputy prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Gantz.
“Today we had the opportunity to reaffirm our common target and desire to expand our strategic cooperation. We have an agreement that has reached unprecedented levels of development in recent years,” the minister clarified.
“The defence ties between the two countries have strengthened via common exercises and the training of our Armed Forces and with the exchange of experiences and knowledge,” he added.
Panagiotopoulos said the discussion with Gantz focused on “Russia’s unjustified war in Ukraine,” which violates international law, while he said it was “an inexcusable action” to attempt to change borders through the use of violence. “Aggressive revisionism is the greatest challenge we are facing in our region,” Panagiotopoulos underlined, pointing out that “it constitutes a serious threat’ for the international rule of law.
He said that they also discussed issues of security in the Easterm Mediterranean, an area of significant strategic importance for the prosperity of both countries, as well as an area “with challenges and threats”.
“We reaffirmed our commitment and determination to effectively address the challenges,” Panagiotopoulos said and clarified that “Greece always support initiatives for peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean,” with strong alliances with Israel and other countries.
He explained that Greece’s initiatives are always based on respect for international law, national sovereignty and good neighbourly relations, while he congratulated Gantz for the recent agreement between Israel and Lebanon (on the delimitation of their maritime zones), which he hailed as an example to be followed by all countries of the region.
“The delimitation of the maritime zones is feasible under the institutional condition of respect for international law and the rules of dialogue,” Panagiotopoulos underlined.
On his part, the Israeli minister pointed out that ‘the world is changing’ due to the repercussions of the war in Ukraine and he referred to the Iranian aggressiveness, as “a threat for the region and for the world”.
He said it was of crucial importance to end “Iranian influence” and clarified that Israel will stand against “any attempt to build terrorist bases at the country’s borders”.
On Greek-Israeli relations, he underlined that they are based on three pillars. The first was the common interest of both countries in ensuring security and stability in the region of Eastern Mediterranean and in the Middle East. The second pillar was their shared values of democracy, he added, as both peoples love and protect their freedom. The third pillar was friendship. “Our ties are built on foundations of trust and constant communication” he said, explaining that Israel considers Greece a “strategic partner”.
Finally, Gantz said that Greek-Israeli cooperation in defence extends to the level of common exercises, industrial projects and strategic dialogue.