Greece, Israel eye closer cooperation amid East Med tension

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s government said Tuesday it wants to expand trade, energy, and military partnerships with Israel and other countries in the region to counter what it considers the hostile policy of neighbor Turkey.

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Greece, Israel and Cyprus, which all are at odds with Turkey over energy boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean, hold regular meetings to promote cooperation in defense and energy. They pledged Tuesday to increase cooperation.

“Our region is not going back to the 19th century,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after meeting in Athens with his counterparts from Israel and Cyprus, Gabi Ashkenazi and Nikos Christodoulides.

Cooperation projects include a planned electricity grid interconnection between Israel, Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete by undersea cable by the end of 2023.

Tension in the region has spiked since the summer after Turkey expanded its oil and gas maritime research missions to waters in which Greece says it has jurisdiction.

Ankara argues that it has been largely excluded from regional energy exploration, insisting that Greek islands near its coastline should not project maritime zones for commercial exploitation.