The Foreign Ministers of Greece and Egypt met on the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 20,2022. In recent years, relations between Athens and Cairo have improved considerably in the energy context. In addition, the two countries act together in the Eastern Mediterranean and conduct joint exercises. The meeting is quite important in terms of confirming the partnership between the two countries.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece Nikos Dendias stated that they had a very interesting meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry, and then held a trilateral meeting with the participation of the representative of the Greek Cypriot Administration of South Cyprus (GCA). In the context of the meeting, it was stated that the parties discussed all the problems in the region and shared the same views on various issues.
Moreover, the energy issue, Greece’s interconnection with Egypt and Egypt’s role in the European Union’s (EU) energy security were also mentioned in the meeting. It was emphasized that the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis wants to turn Greece into an energy center through its interconnection with Egypt and is preparing to present an ambitious project to the European market in order to meet the energy balance crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
One of the most important details that stand out in the meeting is that the energy issue comes to the forefront. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt drew attention to the three-way cooperation in the fields of energy and natural gas discoveries in the Mediterranean and the importance of the electrical interconnection that will facilitate export of electricity from Egypt to the EU countries.
The increasing political ties between Athens and Cairo are leading the parties to implement long-term projects. Because with the undersea cable project, which is thought to be implemented between Athens and Cairo, transport of electricity planned from Egypt to Greece. The most important detail of this project is that it will unite the European and African continents on the transport of energy through Egypt and Greece. Through this undersea cable, electricity can be exported from Africa to Europe. Most of the electricity from Egypt will be used by Greece, and some of it will be exported to other European countries.
The project is quite important for most EU countries, which are trying to reduce their dependence on Moscow for energy due to the Russia-Ukraine War. Therefore, through the project, it can be said that Greece and Egypt can increase their importance in European geopolitics in the context of energy security.
Greece has been trying to distinguish itself as a transit point on energy through the process, which started with the Russia-Ukraine War. Dendias’ statement that Greece will become an energy center with the contributions of Egypt should be read as a reflection of this policy.
Moreover, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece draws attention to role of Egypt in the EU’s energy security and in a way lobbies on behalf of Egypt within the EU. In this sense, it can be argued that the relations between Egypt and Greece have an EU dimension, and this issue increases the importance of Greece for Egypt. It has been revealed that Greek diplomats are carrying out activities aimed at preventing criticism of Egypt within the EU. This shows why Greece is a very important partner for Egypt.
Another point that should be noted is that the United States (US) supports and encourages cooperation between Greece and Egypt. Former US Secretary of State John Kerry, in an interview with the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, said that the Athens administration is doing a terrific job, adding that the electricity connection coming from Egypt and possibly Saudi Arabia could be a game changer for Europe.
Greece is trying to realize a similar project with Saudi Arabia that it aims to realize with Egypt. Athens and Riyadh have agreed on the implementation of an undersea data cable that will connect Europe and Asia in July 2022. As can be seen, the examples of Egypt and Saudi Arabia are important in Greece’s policy of turning the country in an energy hub. Greece underlines the fact that Europe and Africa will be united via Egypt, and Asia and Europe will be united through Saudi Arabia.
Additionally, it is seen that the relations improving between Greece and Egypt, especially in the context of energy, have begun to reflect on the fields of culture and sports. In this respect, it is noteworthy that Athens, Cairo and Riyadh’s efforts to jointly host the FIFA World Cup to be held in 2030. Therefore, it can be said that Greece and Egypt are trying to implement sports diplomacy in bilateral relations.
Consequently, there is a multifaceted relationship between Athens and Cairo in the political, economic and cultural fields, particularly in energy. During the meeting, it is seen that the Foreign Ministers of the two countries confirmed the strategic cooperation between Athens and Cairo. It is understood that Greece continues its policy of including the GCA as a third party in its bilateral relations with Egypt. In addition to all these, energy-oriented negotiations have revealed the conclusion that the cooperation between the parties will increase even more.
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 “Egypt’s Participation in the Meetings of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly”, Egypt State Information Service, https://www.sis.gov.eg/Story/171484/Egypt’s-participation-in-the-meetings-of-the-77th-session-of-the-United-Nations-General-Assembly?lang=en-us, (Date of Accession: 29.09.2022).
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