Amid potential thaw in relations with Turkey, Herzog announces visits to Greece and Cyprus

President Isaac Herzog will leave on Thursday for a state visit to Greece, his spokesperson’s office announced on Sunday, at the invitation of Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

His office also announced a state visit to Cyprus next Wednesday, March 2, during which he will meet his Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades.

In Athens, Herzog will meet Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, other senior officials and members of the local Jewish community.

His visit will begin with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, after which he will meet Sakellaropoulou at the Presidential Palace. Herzog will then meet with Mitsotakis, followed by a state luncheon hosted by Sakellaropoulou.

He is then due to meet the President of the Hellenic Parliament, Konstantinos Tasoulas, and the leader of the opposition Alexis Tsipras, a former Prime Minister.

His visit will end with a meeting with the Jewish community.

President Isaac Herzog receives Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades at Beit Hanasi in Jerusalem, December 7, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

The following week in Cyprus, Herzog will be welcomed with a ceremony in which the anthems of both nations will be played. He will then have a one-on-one meeting with Anastasiades, followed by an expanded meeting between the leaders’ delegations.

Herzog will travel with his senior advisers to Cyprus.

Anastasiades will also host Herzog at a state luncheon.

In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Herzog said that during the two trips he would discuss “steps to broaden and deepen the rich collaboration between our nations.”

“In particular, we will discuss opportunities for regional collaboration in the Mediterranean basin in the fight against the climate crisis,” the statement continued.

Calling the three nations “partners in an alliance of stability in the Mediterranean”, Herzog called the upcoming state visits “expressions of the deep friendship between our peoples and of our strategic partnership”.

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R), his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis (C) and Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis shake hands in Athens on January 2, 2020, before the signing of an agreement for the EastMed gas pipeline project intended to ship gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe. (Aris Messins/AFP)

Anastasiades and Mitsotakis were in Israel in December for a trilateral summit with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Herzog also held separate working meetings with the two leaders.

Israel, Greece and Cyprus are regional allies and cooperate on economic efforts in the Mediterranean Sea, including electricity and gas. They also share an enmity towards Turkey, which is trying to expand its presence in the eastern Mediterranean. The three countries held a naval exercise last year as a sign of deepening their military ties.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently signaled his desire to improve relations, and Herzog is expected to visit Ankara in March. Herzog’s upcoming trips may well be designed to assuage Greek and Cypriot concerns about a potential Israeli-Turkish rapprochement.

In August, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid welcomed his Greek and Cypriot allies to Jerusalem, discussing his vision for a future regional alliance including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece and other countries. others as a “key element of change”. what is happening in the region. A moderate, pragmatic and forward-looking alliance.

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