Bill to Strengthen Ties with Greece, Cyprus Introduced in US Congress

Democratic US Congressmen Ted Deutch and David Cicilline, along with Gus M. Bilirakis from the Republican side, introduced legislation on Wednesday that would strengthen US ties with Israel, Greece, and Cyprus.

The bipartisan, bicameral Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 was also introduced in the Senate by Senators Bob Menendez from the Democrats and Marco Rubio from the Republicans.

The bill would expand US involvement in regional energy issues. This would include the creation of a US-Eastern Mediterranean Energy Center, supporting the development of recently-discovered natural gas fields, and participating in the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum.

It would also improve defense cooperation with the nations of the region, including by authorizing security assistance to Greece and lifting an existing embargo on arms transport to the Republic of Cyprus.

The legislation also makes clear that the US Congress will not turn a blind eye to Turkey’s regional aggression or pursuit of policies which threaten the interests of the United States and its partners.

“As a co-chair of the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance, I’ve been proud to promote in Congress the growing partnership between these eastern Mediterranean countries,” said Congressman Deutch.

“The trilateral relationship between Greece, Cyprus, and Israel has been expanding in recent years to cover new energy pursuits, economic opportunities, and security cooperation. With this legislation, the United States will deepen our support for this regional partnership which furthers our own geopolitical interests,” he added.

“The Greece-Cyprus-Israel partnership offers a new example of cooperation in an increasingly turbulent eastern Mediterranean region. The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act will enable the US to support this developing trilateral relationship through energy and defense cooperation and further its potential, ” Representative Bilirakis stated.

“By strengthening this partnership, we can promote stability within the region and maximize the mutually-beneficial benefits for all parties,” Rep. Bilirakis added.