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Joint Statement Regarding the High-Level Review of the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue

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Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias and U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo conducted a high-level review of the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue on September 28, 2020, in anticipation of the third Strategic Dialogue to be held in Washington, DC in 2021. The United States and Greece reaffirm their commitment to the Strategic Dialogue as a testament to the two countries’ outstanding bilateral relationship. On the occasion of this high-level review, they confirmed their mutual desire to deepen cooperation, in particular in the areas described below.

Regional Cooperation

The United States and Greece shared views on the Eastern Mediterranean and reaffirmed their belief that maritime delimitation issues should be resolved peacefully in accordance with international law. In this regard, the United States welcomed Greece’s confirmed readiness to engage with other countries in the region to achieve maritime delimitation agreements through dialogue and in accordance with international law. The United States and Greece also reiterated their dedication to enhancing their close cooperation as NATO Allies, using all appropriate means at their disposal, to safeguard stability and security in the wider region.

The two sides reiterated their desire to continue and strengthen their cooperation in various sectors in the framework of the 3+1 format (Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the United States), which was launched in Jerusalem in March 2019, as this partnership can contribute to the promotion of peace, stability, security, and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider region. The United States and Greece reiterate their support for the integration of all the countries of the Western Balkans into European and Transatlantic institutions according to the choice of their citizens. They highlighted Greece’s efforts to this end, noting the continued relevance of the Prespes Agreement and North Macedonia’s subsequent accession to NATO, while underscoring the importance of its consistent implementation in good faith.

Defense and Security

Greece and the United States expressed their intent to further enhance their strategic defense and security partnership by expanding and deepening the U.S.-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement, which was last updated in October 2019 and greatly contributes to the security of both nations. In the coming Strategic Dialogue, both sides intend to discuss how to further assist each other in maintaining strong, capable, and interoperable militaries.

Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism

The United States and Greece took note of their security cooperation based upon a shared interest in protecting the safety and security of both nations from terrorists, transnational criminal organizations, and other threat actors. Despite the global pandemic, outstanding U.S.-Greece law enforcement cooperation on arrests, seizures, and extraditions has continuedunabated. Moreover, the two countries took stock of continued improvement in border security and counterterrorism information sharing and collaboration according to international standards. They committed to full implementation of the 2016 Joint Statement on Greece’s participation in the Visa Waiver Program, including beginning issuance of an updated national identification card and fully collecting and analyzing air passenger data.

Trade and Investment

The United States and Greece look forward to enhancing trade and investment between our two countries. The two governments noted that Greece substantially improved its protection and enforcement of intellectual property in 2019, which resulted in Greece’s removal from the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s Special 301 Report this year. The United States and Greece welcomed the inauguration of new investments and acquisitions by U.S. companies in Greece and reaffirmed their commitment to encourage that trend. The two governments look forward to increasing cooperation on trade. The United States and Greece attach great importance on the cooperation on artificial intelligence, cyber security, 5G, and privatization of strategic infrastructure. The two countries remain committed to enhancing the capacity of women to prosper in the workforce, succeed as entrepreneurs, and be better positioned to foster economic growth.

Energy

The United States and Greece welcomed the completion of the Greek section of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline and looked forward to discussing at the coming Strategic Dialogue their mutual support for the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, the floating storage regasification unit project at Alexandroupoli, the privatization of the Kavala underground gas storage, the Interconnection Greece – North Macedonia project, and other commercially viable projects, which could include the EastMedGas Pipeline.

Both sides welcomed the September 22 formal establishment of the EastMed Gas Forum as a regional organization and the ongoing successful cooperation on energy through the 3+1 process. Greece and the United States underlined the participation of ExxonMobil in partnership with Total and Hellenic Petroleum in offshore exploration blocks off the coast of Crete, as well the potential opportunities for U.S. investment in the renewable energy sector, with the recently ratified Greek Law “Modernization of Environmental Legislation.”

People-to-People Ties

The United States and Greece reaffirmed the centrality of people-to-people ties in their bilateral relations. They look forward to marking Greece’s independence bicentennial in 2021, as well as exchanging exhibitions and cooperation between museums. The United States and Greece reaffirmed their intent to strengthen links between U.S. and Greek universities and create new joint, dual-degree, and study abroad programs. Both countries will continue to support ongoing educational and academic exchanges, including the Fulbright Program in Greece, which marked its 72nd anniversary in 2020. The United States and Greece agreed to continue their longstanding cooperation to protect Greece’s cultural property. Both countries also agreed to cooperate on capacity building within the creative industries, including in the film sector. The United States and Greece also agreed to explore public-private partnerships in culture and technology.

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RIPPLE EFFECTS: GREECE AND TURKEY OPEN NEW NORTHERN FRONT ON LIBYAN CONFLICT

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Greece’s navy has declared a state of heightened alert and deployed ships to the Aegean Sea in response to a Turkish vessel conducting seismic surveys for energy exploration purposes close to a disputed maritime area.

On Tuesday the Greek foreign ministry issued a formal protest to Turkey following the announcement that a Turkish drilling ship would conduct explorations in the maritime area south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo in the south eastern Aegean. The foreign ministry also released a statement:

We call on Turkey to immediately cease its illegal activities, which violate our sovereign rights and undermine peace and security in the region.”

Following Turkey’s rejection of the protest, the Greek Navy has sent ships to patrol in the area.

“Navy units have been deployed since yesterday in the south and southeastern Aegean,” a navy source told AFP, declining to give further details.

Athens has stated that Turkish surveys in sections of the Greek continental shelf constitute an escalation of the tension in the region where the two countries dispute the boundary of their respective maritime areas. LINK

Experts cited in media reports have interpreted Turkey’s conduct as designed to test Greece’s determination to defend its interests in the eastern Mediterranean region, and believe that the Turkish leadership’s moves may also be linked to the Libyan conflict. According to this interpretation of the latest developments, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apparently seeks to “test” the reaction of his opponents. LINK

A report in Xinhua suggests that Greece’s response is to draw even closer to Egypt. Greece and Egypt have been holding negotiations over the demarcation of an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean, however the boundaries of the area they are discussing overlaps with the area which was subject to a maritime agreement signed by Turkey and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord in Libya late last year (the two parties also signed a military agreement pursuant to which Turkey has sent thousands of fighters and a large amount of weapons and supplies to the Government of National Accord).

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi received a phone call from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday, during which they discussed regional issues, with a focus on the Libyan crisis.

According to the Xinhua report, Sisi expressed Egypt’s opposition to “illegitimate foreign intervention” in Libyan domestic affairs, citing that they would further exacerbate the security conditions in Libya in a way that affects the stability of the entire region, said Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady in a statement.

For his part, the Greek prime minister also voiced rejection of foreign interference in Libya, while highlighting the political course as a key solution for the Libyan issue.

He hailed Egypt’s “sincere efforts” that seek a peaceful settlement to the Libyan crisis, according to the statement.

Over the past few years, the Egyptian-Greek ties have been growing closer, with their growing enmity with Turkey also resulting in them developing a similar position on Libya. The talks between Sisi and Mitsotakis took place just a few days after the Egyptian parliament approved a possible troop deployment in Libya to defend Egypt’s western borders with the war-torn country. LINK

A perceptive analysis of the emerging Turkey-Libya (Tripoli) relations published last month remains just as salient to describe the situation today:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gambled big in Libya and won big – so far. This victory portends important changes in the politics of the Mediterranean, for Turkey has succeeded not only in demonstrating its determination to become the dominant player in the Eastern Mediterranean, but also in showcasing its military prowess and wherewithal. The latter might precipitate a deeper conflict and crisis in the region, extending north toward Greece.

Erdogan threw his support behind the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) against General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which had besieged the GNA’s capital, Tripoli. Haftar suffered a humiliating defeat as Turkish drones, troops, navy vessels and some 10,000 Syrian fighters transported by Ankara to Libya stopped him in his tracks and then forced him to abandon bases and territory. A last-minute call for a ceasefire by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was rejected by the victorious GNA, which has set its aims at capturing other towns, including the critical port city of Sirte.

Indirectly, this was also a defeat for the countries that had backed Haftar: Egypt, the UAE and Russia. The UAE had contributed military equipment and the Russians non-state mercenary forces.

Turkey’s Libya expedition has to be seen from two perspectives. First, the GNA concluded a deal with Ankara that delineated their respective Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in such a way that it divides the Mediterranean Sea into two sections. Turkey’s purpose is to hinder efforts by Egypt, Cyprus, Israel and Greece to export natural gas, either through a pipeline or on LNG vessels, to Europe. Turkey has aggressively interfered with efforts by these to drill for gas. Ankara claims that most of the waters around Cyprus actually belong to Turkey or to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a country recognized only by Turkey.

However, more important than simply preventing Eastern Mediterranean gas exports is the underlying strategy driving this push against Haftar. From the moment he assumed power in 2003, Erdogan has striven to elevate Turkey’s international role to that of a regional, if not global, power. Initially, his strategy was one of “zero problems with neighbors,” which served to emphasize Turkey’s soft power. The primary driver, however, was the desire for Turkey to assume a hegemonic position over the Middle East. This policy foundered and was essentially buried by the Arab Spring.

What has replaced it is a more aggressive and militarized posture that takes the fight to perceived enemies. That could mean anyone and everyone, since Turks tend to see most countries as a threat, even if they are allies. LINK

While Turkey has bet big and won big so far, it appears that the period of relatively easy victories is over and its aggressive moves are going to face more resistance in future. As Turkey continues to shows no sign of moderating its expansionist claims and manoeuvres, the region is now moving irrevocably towards a catastrophic military clash as Turkey and Egypt have drawn incompatible ‘red lines’ in Libya, with the coastal town of Sirte likely to be the detonator (or possibly the Jufra airbase to the south).

An international agreement promoted by the UN in 2014-2015 established an executive body and a legislative body to govern Libya and pave the way for a more permanent arrangement. However, fundamental disagreements between the two quasi-State organizations resulted in a complete split, with the executive arm becoming the ‘UN-backed’ Government of National Accord based in Tripoli and the House of Representatives relocating to Tobruk (thus the legislative arm is also ‘UN-backed’, though this detail is usually omitted from mainstream media reports).

Turkey has allied itself with the Government of National Accord (GNA), Egypt has allied itself with the House of Representatives (and its armed forces, the Libyan National Army – the LNA – headed by Khalifa Haftar). More generally, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia are invariably reported as supporting the LNA, while the GNA is mainly backed by Turkey and Qatar.

Following the drastic changes on the battlefield over the last two months as the GNA swept the LNA from its positions around Tripoli following a failed attempt to capture the Libyan capital, both Turkey and Egypt have committed themselves to positions that are in direct conflict, indicating that a major armed clash is inevitable unless there is a major diplomatic breakthrough or one of the two sides accepts a humiliating backdown.

Specifically, Turkey and the Government of National Accord are demanding that the Libyan National Army (which recently gave Egypt permission to send its armed forces into Libya) withdraw from the two areas (Sirte and Jufra) and have expressed their determination to take the areas by force if necessary. The Libyan National Army and Egypt have stated that any attempt to capture the two areas will result in Egypt entering Libya in force, which would result in a direct confrontation between Turkey and Egypt. While Egypt has the advantage of sharing a long land border with Libya, in the event of a major conflict air and maritime power could be decisive.

Posted in Greece, Libya, TurkeyComments Off on RIPPLE EFFECTS: GREECE AND TURKEY OPEN NEW NORTHERN FRONT ON LIBYAN CONFLICT

Turkey drew up plans to invade Greece and Armenia

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Armenpress
Turkey drew up plans to invade Greece and Armenia

YEREVAN, JUNE 16, ARMENPRESS. Turkey developed a plan for a possible invasion of Greece named after an 11th century Turkish military commander, Nordic Monitor reported citing secret documents, ARMENPRESS reports, citing the Jerusalem Post.

The documents were part of a PowerPoint presentation that was supposedly planned by the Turkish general staff for internal planning review.

Titled “TSK Çakabey Harekât Planlama Direktifi” (Turkish Armed Forces Çakabey Operation Planning Directive), the presentation was dated June 13, 2014. According to the Nordic Monitor report, this suggests the plan was likely updated and finalized after a review of some earlier draft, and that the plan could still be active.

Also included in the same document were plans to invade Armenia, the operation in this case being titled “TSK Altay Harekât Planlama Direktifi,” which was dated August 15, 2000.

The documents were exchanged by top general staff commanders via a secure internal email system, the news portal reported. They appear to have been accidentally leaked in a court case file in Ankara that prosecutor Serdar Coşkun submitted to the court as part of an investigation into the failed military coup against Erdoğan in July 2016.

All of the general staff’s emails from the two months preceding the coup were seized by the prosecution.

The general staff had panicked over the possible leaking of the classified documents and urged the court to allow the documents to be screened before being presented. It appears, however, that the prosecutors ignored these concerns, the Nordic Monitor reported.

However, while the plans were named in the document, any specific details were omitted, likely being classified and therefore not shared through the network.

It is believed that the plans were prepared as a contingency regarding developments in Syria, in order to maintain offensive and deterrence capabilities on the Western front while moving troops, according to Nordic Monitor.

The inspiration for the operation’s name, Çaka Bey, better known as Chaka Bey and Tzachas, was a Seljuk Turk military commander and ruler of an independent state based in modern day Izmir. Chaka Bey was originally a commander in the service of the Byzantine Empire, but rebelled and began seizing power through conquest. At one point, he even declared himself Byzantine emperor.

Chaka Bey is a much revered figure in Turkey, with the Turkish Naval Command listing him as the first Turkish admiral and founder of the first modern Turkish navy; there is even a statue of him in their museum in Istanbul, the Nordic Monitor reported.

The revelations also come in the wake of renewed anti-Greek rhetoric on the part of the Erdoğan regime, which according to the report it has been scaling up since 2013, giving the example of a March 2019 announcement publicly supporting calls to convert the Hagia Sophia from a museum back into a mosque – which they announced as a response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of ‘Israeli’ sovereignty of the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem.

The decision sparked backlash from Greece, with the building having had a long history as a Greek Orthodox cathedral before being converted into a mosque following Ottoman conquest of the city. It was converted into a museum in 1935.

Greek Foreign Minister George Katrougalos criticized Erdoğan’s remarks at the time, saying: “Any questioning of this status is not just an insult to the sentiments of Christians, it is an insult to the international community and international law,” according the Middle East Eye.

They also come amid Turkey’s attempts to increase its sphere of influence in the region, including its involvement in conflicts in Syria and Libya.

Posted in Armenia, Greece, TurkeyComments Off on Turkey drew up plans to invade Greece and Armenia

Politics and Religion: Why Is Constantinople Reluctant to Resolve the Conflict Between the Antioch and Jerusalem Patriarchates?

By Nadia Bazuk

The world is slowly beginning to return to a normal way of life. Shops, cafes, restaurants, and government offices are opening. Church life is also returning to its usual course. It would seem that the pause and problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could unite Local Churches in the fight against the virus, make faith a bigger support for people around the world in these dark times.

But apparently, some Church leaders have only increased their activities aimed at separating the Churches. So, in April, the Ecumenical Patriarchate literally voiced its support for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party by publishing a document titled “For The Life of The World”, in which Donald Trump’s policy is criticized. This is not the first time that the Phanar has indulged the interests of the Democrats in an attempt to divide the Orthodox faith – the same thing happened in Ukraine and is happening now in the Balkans. As for the Middle East, the conflict between the Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem, from which Constantinople disassociates itself, comes to mind.

On February 26, 2020, a meeting of Primates and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches, convened by Patriarch Theophilus of Jerusalem, ended in Amman, the capital of Jordan. The event was primarily aimed at paving the way for dialogue between the Churches in view of the discord that has arisen in recent years, including the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) by Constantinople.

The meeting was attended by Primates and representatives of seven Local Churches of Jerusalem, Russia, Serbia, Czech Lands and Slovakia, Romania, Poland and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. To be mentioned is that shortly before the meeting, the Antiochian Patriarchate refused to participate. As noted in the Church’s statement, it decided not to attend this meeting “to avoid whatever increases divergence and deepens the rift between brothers”.

The main reason for the refusal was the long-standing conflict between Antioch and Jerusalem over the issue of Qatar. On the eve of the meeting in Amman, a compromise between Jerusalem and Antioch was almost reached. Patriarch John X was ready to go to Jordan, but at the last moment he changed his mind. This was allegedly induced by a number of phone calls from the Phanar. Patriarch John’s decision was preceded by a number of publications on pro-Constantinople media (fanarion.blogspot.com and others), which stated that Antioch had no right to go to Amman until the Qatari issue was resolved.

The essence of the dispute is the jurisdiction of Qatar. Both Jerusalem and Antioch lay prerogative claims to the only local parish. It was founded in 1997 with the assistance of the then US Ambassador Patrick Theros and with the consent of the Qatari government, since up to that point the country had a ban on holding any ceremonies related to non-Muslim cults. The first Parish Rector was Archimandrite Theophilus Giannopoulos of the Church of Jerusalem, now its Primate. Subsequently, Theophilus was replaced by Archimandrite Macarios, also a clergyman of the Church of Jerusalem.

The reason why representatives of Jerusalem were sent to Qatar, which is considered the canonical territory of the Antiochian Patriarchate, lies in the tense relations between Damascus and Doha. As a result of the political conflict, the Qatari authorities refuse to issue visas to the Antioch clergy.

During services in the Qatari parish, Jerusalem clergy commemorated the Patriarch of Antioch, thus recognizing the jurisdiction of the Antioch. However, in 2013, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem suddenly created the Archdiocese of Qatar, appointed Archimandrite Macarios as its Primate and titled him the Archbishop of Qatar. In the Orthodox tradition, the appointment of an Archbishop to a particular area means claiming rights to it.

Obviously, Jerusalem’s actions provoked a protest from the Patriarchate of Antioch. However, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem not only did not change its decision, but also claimed the Syrian diocese of Bosra and Hauran, which originally was under the jurisdiction of the Antioch.Theologians: Constantinople Lost Its Weight in the Orthodox World

During 2013, the Patriarchate of Antioch attempted to resolve the conflict. Thus, in June 2013, a meeting between representatives of both Patriarchates with the participation of the Phanar delegation was held in Athens under the mediation of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece. At the same time, the Patriarchate of Constantinople could not or did not want to help find a compromise during the negotiations. Instead, it informally – directly and via the Greek Foreign Ministry – put pressure on Patriarch John and the Antiochian delegation so that they accepted the presence of the Bishop of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Qatar. Even those weak and tentative agreements that were reached then were not ratified by the Synods of both Churches.

As a result, the Jerusalem Patriarchate did not give up its claim to Qatar, and in 2014 the Antioch broke off Eucharistic communion with it.

After that, the Antiochian Orthodox Church repeatedly asked the Phanar to act as a judge in this dispute. There were already precedents for the influence of Constantinople on Jerusalem: in 2005, Patriarch Bartholomew organized a Pan-Orthodox Council that confirmed the removal of Patriarch Irenaeus of Jerusalem, and in 2008, the Phanar attached the Vicariate of the Palestinian-Jordanian communities, which united the churches and monasteries of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in the United States, to the Greek American Archdiocese of the Church of Constantinople.

However, Constantinople decided not to interfere in the conflict, which obviously would have been resolved in favor of the Patriarchate of Antioch. Hoping to ensure the presence of both Churches at the Council of Crete in 2016, Constantinople was unable to fulfill the role of the supreme arbiter and peacemaker, which it claims. Instead of real negotiations, the representatives of Constantinople took the lazy way out. They put aside the most difficult diplomatic task of reconciling the two Churches, and gave empty promises to Patriarch John that the issue would be settled later, after the Council.

At a Synaxis in March 2014, Patriarch Bartholomew refused to include the Qatari issue on the agenda, despite repeated requests from Patriarch John. His All-Holiness Bartholomew again tried to put pressure on the Antiochian delegation and, in particular, handed them a letter from Patriarch Theophilus claiming jurisdiction over Jerusalem in Qatar, making it clear that there was no other solution to the dispute. The pressure was so scandalous that Metropolitan Silouan (Mousa) refused to sign the final document, and a month later the Synod of the Church of Antioch decided to break off Eucharistic communion with Jerusalem.

This behavior of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, “the first among equals”, only led to an increase in the Church of Antioch’s distrust of the Pan-Orthodox process, which was meant to take place at its expense. In 2014, Antioch first refused to participate in a meeting of Primates and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches during preparations for Patriarch Bartholomew’s Pan-Orthodox Council of 2016 in Crete, and subsequently skipped the Council itself.

So, what is impeding the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s assistance in resolving the conflict between the two ancient Churches, one of which is suffering from the war in Syria? To answer this question, we must first understand what prevents Patriarch Bartholomew from taking care of preserving the unity of Orthodoxy – his Holy duty as the first in honor. In the light of recent events, it seems that His All-Holiness seeks to act only when his exceptional role is recognized, and makes loyalty to Constantinople as the “bearer of the idea of Hellenism”, a condition for any assistance from it.

Thus, the example of the meeting in Jordan shows that Constantinople opposes any attempts by Local Churches to build a dialogue without its chairmanship. This is evidenced by angry letters addressed to the Primates of the Jerusalem Patriarchate (without any mention of the Qatari issue!) and the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, and the fact that Patriarch Bartholomew thanked the Primate of the Cypriot Orthodox Church, Archbishop Chrysostom, for criticizing the meeting in Amman and refusing to participate in it – and even gifted him an expensive pen.

All this is presented as “revenge” against Moscow and Antioch for the failure of the Council of Crete and holding the meeting in Jordan: after all, in Amman there gathered those Churches that are actually wary of recognizing the decision of Constantinople to create the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. In fact, this is due to the systemic inability of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to solve Orthodox issues if it’s done not in the format of Greek solidarity. And Moscow is only a virtual threat to rally the Greek Churches around the Phanar.

The Phanar can be reluctant to intercede for the Antiochian Patriarchate because it is “jealous” of it on account of Moscow. And to restore justice, Patriarch Bartholomew would have to spoil relations with Patriarch Theophilus, a native of Gargalianoi (Greece) – for the sake of Patriarch John, a native of Latakia (Syria). This view may seem absurd and biased, but this is how it will be perceived by the majority of the hierarchy of Greek-speaking Churches – Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Greece, Cyprus… It is no accident that since the break with Moscow, Patriarch Bartholomew has increasingly spoken about the key role of Hellenism in Orthodoxy. Moreover, it is quite possible that the crisis is of a purely political nature, and without external intervention from Constantinople would not have lasted this long: the faithful in Doha did not want to divide into jurisdictions and continued to pray together, as the Bishop of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Qatar said. Constantinople benefits from maintaining contradictions between Jerusalem and Antioch, especially now, when the situation in Ukraine and attempts to interfere in the affairs of other Local Churches (in Macedonia, Montenegro, the Czech Republic) cause increasing irritation in Orthodoxy. The goal of Patriarch Bartholomew is to set the ancient Churches at loggerheads as much as possible in order to prevent the possibility of their union against him.

In fact, Patriarch Bartholomew was caught in a vicious circle. In a truly Ecumenical format, without the monolithic support of the Greek Churches, he is not able to secure the primacy it claims. And while relying on the Greeks, he loses his authority in the world Orthodoxy and splits it along national lines: into Greeks and Arabs, into Greeks and Slavs, into Greeks and Georgians, and so on. The Phanar seems to refuse to consider a possibility to return to the original, Gospel model of building relationships in the Church in which there is “no Greek, … nor barbarian” (Colossians 3:11).

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, GreeceComments Off on Politics and Religion: Why Is Constantinople Reluctant to Resolve the Conflict Between the Antioch and Jerusalem Patriarchates?

Coronavirus Pandemic Has Shown that Mediterranean Europe Does Not Need THE EU

By Paul Antonopoulos

Global Research,

Germany’s long history of wanting to rule the entirety of Europe extends back to both World Wars in the 20th Century, and perhaps even earlier. The German political structures believed that through war and conquest it could dominate the continent – this of course lacked any realism. Even with Germany’s defeat in World War II, it still did not abandon this ambition, albeit, it was not possible for many decades because of U.S. dominance on the continent and the Soviet counterweight.

However, Germany played the long game and with the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union, Berlin signed the “4 + 2 Treaty” on October 3, 1990 to unify capitalist West Germany with communist East Germany. With unification achieved, then-German Chancellor Helmut Kohl made the next steps for Germany to dominate Europe, the signing of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty that brought to life the European Union and opened the path for the Euro Dollar.

Eight years later, then-German Foreign Minister Joska Fischer during a speech at the Humboldt University in Berlin said that German and European unification were two sides of the same coin, openly admitting that the European Union is inseparable to Germany. With more than a quarter of the Eurozone’s wealth in German hands, there is little doubt that Berlin’s quest to dominate Europe is finding more success through the Western liberal model of open borders and a “shared” market rather than through military might and conquest. It is now appearing though that Germany is beginning to lose control of the dominance it once had over the continent though. France, Italy and Britain served as balance to West Germany, but that balance was tilted towards Germany after unification, and especially now since Brexit.

Britain of course first comes to mind when we think of the dissolvement of the European Union. Although Britain is a wealthy and powerful country to lose, and there is no doubt it caused a major blow to the pan-European project, Britain maintained some semblance of sovereignty by maintaining the Pound and not adopting the neo-Mark, the Euro Dollar. Germany’s economic power also correlates with its political strength, which one of its main drivers is the Euro Dollar.Germany’s Dominant Role in the European Union

The countries touted as potentials to follow Britain are the three Mediterranean countries of Spain, Portugal and Greece. This is of no surprise as these are the three countries most affected by the Global Financial Crisis in 2009 and onwards. Although they are economically and politically weaker than Germany, ironically enough they are the only countries capable of serving as a potential counterweight to German dominance of the European Union.

Northern and central Europe in one way or another are directly tied to Germany, while the Mediterranean countries have a separation in geography, culture and history. Although French initiatives to contain German dominance in the European Union led to the European Central Bank and the Common Agricultural Policy, it has not only failed, but allowed Germany to control these institutions as well. France is limited in its capabilities as it is the only major power to border Germany and has a history of direct conflict when German nationalism became out of control and extremified.

Therefore, cooperation between Mediterranean Europe can pose the biggest challenge to German hegemony in Europe. Of course, there is the challenge that the interests of Spain, Portugal and Greece are not identical, but each have suffered immensely by German-imposed austerity and economic policy. The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated that Germany is not willing to assist European Union member countries in times of crisis and that rather it serves its own interest first and foremost, just as it always has under the illusions of European unity.

Powerbrokers in Lisbon, Madrid and Athens must seriously consider methods on how best to achieve their own sovereignty to serve their own state interests instead of being under the domination of Berlin’s interests. The Mediterranean connects Europe, Asia and Africa together, meaning it occupies an extremely strategic space – far more strategic states than those who border Germany such as the Czech Republic or the Netherlands for example. By cooperating to achieve sovereignty, Mediterranean Europe will have far more leverage against Germany as it serves as a gateway to two other continents.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown that a divorce from Germany best serves the interest of Mediterranean Europe and has highlighted two facts; Spain was ignored and abandoned by Germany when the pandemic began, while Greece which was crippled by German and IMF-imposed austerity in the previous decade has shown that it can overcome challenges without European Union assistance with its impressive handling of the coronavirus.

Although Italy is a Mediterranean country, it is unlikely they will want to abandon the European Union project as it has the ambition to become “the Germany of the Mediterranean.” Portugal itself is also being devastated by the coronavirus but its present and future is always tied with that of Spain. Greece’s confidence in how it handled the pandemic and Spain’s disappointment with the German response for assistance should make these Mediterranean countries seriously consider their future in the European Union and whether a Mediterranean cooperation would better serve their interests.

Posted in Europe, France, Greece, Health, Italy, SpainComments Off on Coronavirus Pandemic Has Shown that Mediterranean Europe Does Not Need THE EU

The man from the Acropolis

On the death of the Greek anti-fascist Manolis Glezos

Manolis Glezos
Manolis GlezosPhoto: AFP

The hour at which Manolis Glezos became a legend struck on the night of May 31, 1941. The swastika flag had been waving on the Acropolis for five weeks since the fascist army entered Athens. Glezos, 18 years old and active as a student in an anti-fascist resistance group, angry and fearless, climbed onto the landmark of the Greek capital with his friend Apostolos Sandas, tore down the Nazi flag in a cinematic handshake and hoisted the flag of Greece.

The young men fled; they became heroes and icons of the struggle against the occupiers. Those sentenced to death in absentia, arrested him a year later and tortured him. Glezos got away with life; his brother Nikos was executed. Manolis was later imprisoned by the Italian fascists, and finally by Greek collaborators.

This marked a permanent lifeline: to fight, to rebel, to endure hardship. The death penalty was imposed on him twice, and Glezos was imprisoned for eleven and a half years of his life – even during the postwar period marked by civil war, in the authoritarian 50s, during the military dictatorship in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Alongside the composer Mikis Theodorakis, he was one of the most prominent prisoners of the dictatorship – an international movement fought for her release. He also spent four and a half years in exile; in view of all of this, one might consider it a balancing justice that he reached a very old age.

Manolis Glezos has often campaigned for the unity of the left. The fact that he had to do this again and again also testifies to the fragmentation, persecution and hostility of the left. In the 1950s he was active for the unification of the Democratic Left, including MPs; in the 1970s, after the end of the military dictatorship, he started to rebuild the party. As a radical leftist he ran several times on the list of the social democratic Pasok, led the left list Synaspismos and played a key role in the formation of the Syriza alliance. He made politics in the European Parliament and in the local council of his home village Apiranthos.

Anger and fearlessness remain to him into old age. Glezos protested publicly against the anti-social austerity policies of the governments before Syriza, against the tough conditions imposed by the creditors of Greece and against the compromises of his comrades when they governed themselves. Disappointed by the government’s forced austerity policies under Alexis Tsipras, he ran in 2015 for an ultimately unsuccessful spin-off from Syriza.

Perhaps his most important concern, his life theme: reparation for Germany for the crimes and devastation committed by the Wehrmacht. It’s about mass murder, deportation, forced labor, the plundering of the whole country. Glezos wrote fire letters to federal presidents and was chairman of a committee to collect war debts.

Perhaps his most touching gesture: when the German ambassador was attacked by Distomo during the Second World War at a memorial ceremony in honor of the victims of the Nazi massacre in World War II, the 94-year-old Glezos jumped to the side of the diplomat. He took the ambassador by the hand and made sure that he could place his wreath at the memorial. “The child of a criminal, whatever the crimes of his father or mother, is not responsible,” said the anti-fascist. The fact that he, although almost a century old, did not receive any compensation from Germany for his country is a shameful testimony to German politics.

The great old man of the Greek left died on Monday.

Posted in GreeceComments Off on The man from the Acropolis

Frontex deploys additional 100 border guards at Greece’s land border


KeeptalkingGreece.com


Frontex deploys additional 100 border guards at Greece’s land border

Frontex has deployed an additional 100 border guards at the Greek land border as part of a rapid border intervention following a request by Greece.

Border guards from 22 member-state arrived on Thursday in the region of Evros.

Member States will also provide technical equipment, including vessels, maritime surveillance aircraft and Thermal-Vision Vehicles, for the Frontex maritime Rapid Border Intervention Aegean 2020.

The short amount of time it took us to organise Frontex rapid border interventions at Greece’s land and maritime borders highlight the commitment by the Greek authorities to protect Europe’s borders, the Frontex said in a statement.

Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri : “We stand here barely a week after the Greek authorities turned to Frontex to provide more officers and more equipment to help protect their borders, which are also our common EU external borders.”

The presence of 100 officers from all around Europe underlines the fact that the protection of the European area of freedom, security and justice is a shared responsibility of all Member States and Frontex,” Leggeri added during the launch of the operation in the Greek town of Orestiada.

Greece has been trying to stop a massive wave of migrants pushing in from Turkey, in a crisis that erupted last month.

Athens says more than 45,000 attempted entries have been thwarted, including more than 500 on Thursday — when for a second day migrants threw Molotov cocktails at Greek border troops and police. Greek units were also attacked with tear gas and responded in kind.

Earlier in the week, two Frontex border surveillance planes were deployed to Greece.
The rapid border interventions will last two months and be further extended if needed, the Frontex said.

Frontex already has more than 500 officers in Greece, as well as 11 vessels and other equipment.

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Greece Vetoes NATO Approval of Turkish Aid to Al-Qaeda in Syria

The Permanent Mission of Greece to NATO on Friday evening vetoed a statement that the alliance was preparing to make in support of Ankara, following the recent killing of 33 Turkish troops, Greek newspaper Vima reported, citing information from Greek sources.

According to the newspaper, the foreign minister of Greece, Nikos Dendias, issued direct instructions to representatives to use a veto if the text of the joint statement does not include a Greek proposal to refer to compliance with the March 2016 EU-Turkey declaration on refugees and migrants.

The Greek demand was reportedly met with resistance by a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, and France.

Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu demanded to begin political consultations provided for in Article 4 of the Washington Treaty, which allows a member country to ask for the organization’s assistance if it considers that its security, territorial integrity or political independence are threatened.

Ankara also requested that its allies assist on air defense and intelligence in connection with the situation in Idlib, but no agreements have been reached on the issue, according to the publication.

The report comes as 33 Turkish troops were killed by a Syrian airstrike in the Idlib Governorate on Thursday. The Russian military later explained that the Syrian army targeted Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorists operating in the province, adding that Syrian government forces were not informed about the Turkish presence in the area.

The latest spike in fatal skirmishes follows several weeks of tensions triggered by attacks from Turkish-backed militants against the Syrian army.

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‘Brexit means you won’t have to share the pain of Greek workers’

Was leaving the EU a racist move or an achievement to be celebrated?

Christina Kostoula

Comrade Christina talks from the floor of the recent Workers Party of Britain meeting in Birmingham, congratulating Britain’s workers on having successfully achieved an exit from the much-hated European Union.

“I’m glad,” she says, “that you do not have to share the pain of the 61 percent of Greeks who voted to leave the EU and had their votes overturned.”

Greek workers were betrayed first by Pasoc (the Greek social-democratic/Labour party) and then by Syriza, the allegedly ‘left’ ‘alternative’, which had promised to let the people decide but ended up overturning that decision and handing Greece’s economy over the the unelected EU banking troika, who have been administering shock austerity treatment to the country ever since.

Christina describes how Greece has effectively been colonised by the EU, its resources stolen, its people plunged into poverty and its decision-making put into the hands of unelected EU bureaucrats.

The impoverishment of the Greek people has gone hand in hand with the privatisation of all the country’s wealth – everything from its beautiful landscapes and natural resources to its public services, industries, ancient monuments and cultural heritage.

“I’ve seen my country of origin destroyed by the European Union. I hate the EU because of what it did to the hospitals, because of the genocidal policies that are literally killing my country. We have no sovereignty any more. There is no voting in Greece – democracy has ended.”

Christina rebuts the idea that workers who oppose the EU must be racist. She warns that if the left is not able to unite workers on a progressive platform, the right step in to harness workers’ anger against their own interests.

Class unity in the struggle for socialism is our best weapon against the neoliberal imperialist system as represented by the EU.

Posted in Greece, UKComments Off on ‘Brexit means you won’t have to share the pain of Greek workers’

Libya Is Likely to Become a Proxy Battlefront Between Greece and Turkey

By Paul Antonopoulos

Global Research,

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has certainly opened up pandora’s box in Libya that is now difficult for him to close after he made a series of gross miscalculations and aggression against Greece. This has triggered a crisis all across the Eastern Mediterranean. With Libya in a state of war since the NATO-jihadist alliance removed and murdered long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two prominent forces have emerged from the initial chaos, the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord in coalition with the Muslim Brotherhood who control the capital city of Tripoli, and the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General Khalifa Haftar, who controls about 80% of the country and has the backing of the Libyan Parliament based in Tobruk. Alliances are beginning to form and play out as a proxy in Libya.

The Erdoğan-Tripoli deal to steal Greek maritime space to exploit gas and oil deposits has hit a major roadblock as hostilities continue to increase between Greece and Turkey. Not only has the U.S., Russia, the European Union and Israel denounced Turkey’s moves in the Eastern Mediterranean, Egypt, Italy and France have all categorically supported Greece’s position and have vowed to intervene to any Turkish aggression.

As part of the wider Eastern Mediterranean crisis, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said yesterday that Turkey is willing to use the military to steal oil and gas from Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The comments come as today Cyprus, France and Italy will conduct the “CYP/FRA/IT 2019 naval exercise in the island’s EEZ,” demonstrating that Paris and Rome want a greater role and influence in the Eastern Mediterranean by cooperating with fellow EU states – Cyprus and Greece.  The U.S. is also aiming to capitalize on pressuring Turkey for its strengthening relations with Russia in recent times, with Congress likely to lift a 1987 arms embargo against Cyprus today, which was already approved by the Senate in the middle of the year.

Meanwhile, the Turkish-Greek border has been intensified. Although Turkey violates Greek airspace on a daily basis resulting in an equal number of Greek jets chasing off Turkish warplanes, Tuesday was especially intense as 38 Greek jets surrounded and chased off over 20 Turkish jets, with a Greek military source saying “we had fun.” This comes as Turkey announced it is willing to use military force against Greece to exploit oil and gas close to Greek islands. This resulted in a flurry of responses from the Greek government and military all announcing that they are not afraid to respond to any Turkish aggression.Erdogan Opened a Pandora’s Box in Libya that Will be Difficult to Close

Athens is also taking diplomatic and soft power steps to prevent Turkey from beginning a military confrontation with Greece. Athens has utilized the EU mechanisms to ensure backing against Turkish hostilities, with Ursula Von Der Leynen, the new President of the European Commission, saying on Monday:

“We are on your side [Greece], Turkey’s action in the Aegean is unacceptable, we will send a clear message to Turkey.”

Greece also took the step of expelling the GNA (Government of National Accord) Ambassador, prompting the way for the LNA to have European recognition as it is only openly backed by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This expulsion of the GNA Ambassador saw the LNA’s Navy Chief Faraz al-Mahtawi state on Greek television that he will personally sink Turkish ships if they arrive in Libya after Erdoğan threatened to militarily intervene in the North African country.

And this is exactly where the Greek-Turkish battle will take place, through a proxy in Libya and not directly with each other. Mahtawi, a Philhellene who was trained at the Greek Naval School, engaged in race politics by saying in perfect Greek on television that Fayez el-Sarraj, the Prime Minister of the GNA, was “not a Libyan, but a Turk,” as his ancestry is Ottoman Turkish colonists to Libya, while he also expressed his hope for Greek support.

With Greece, Egypt and Cyprus in a military alliance, Athens is now expanding its military cooperation further. A move of particular strategic importance made by the Greek military leadership, was the signing of a memorandum of military cooperation between Greece and the UAE, which if we recall, is a key ally of Haftar and opposed to Turkey. This comes as reports are circulating that the UAE and Saudi Arabia are preparing an air operation in coordination with Haftar to defeat the GNA in Tripoli.

It also comes as Libyan Parliament representatives are arriving in Athens to hold discussions with the Greek government. If the Libyan representatives can convince Athens to recognize them, there is likely to be a domino effect of several EU states withdrawing their recognition of the GNA, isolating Turkey further who has not received any international support for the crisis it began in the Eastern Mediterranean. Even Russia, which has strengthened relations with Turkey to the annoyance of NATO, has continued its consistent policy of following international law, with Russian Ambassador Andrei Maslov to Greece saying on Wednesday that “the rules laid down by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea should be fundamental. There are no alternatives.” This of course is problematic as Turkey is one of only 15 UN members, out of 193, that has not signed it.

Although Turkey claims it is enacting international law, it has not specified which one. This has created a crisis all over the Eastern Mediterranean that is likely to spill over into Libya as Haftar’s forces continue to advance on Tripoli. Although it is unlikely Greece and Turkey will go to war, we can expect a proxy to emerge between the two rival countries with the battlefield being Libya.

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