A recent development in Athens is believed to bring a paradigm shift in shaping the geopolitics of the Mediterranean and the Gulf regions. On 11th February, the meeting of the ‘Philia Forum’ (meaning ‘Friendship Forum’ in Greek) took place in Athens. The platform brought together six countries, represented by their Foreign Ministers and included Greece, Cyprus, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian participated in the meeting through video conferencing as an observer.
The meeting was opened by the address of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis who explained that it was important for Greece to establish the forum as it is located in the middle of two geographical arcs — a horizontal arc connecting Portugal and the Persian Gulf as well as a vertical arc connecting Europe with Africa. He further stated that through the forum, “Greece’s ambition is to be a bridge between the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf.”
Greek Prime Minister said, “It is natural for Greece to suggest this pioneering form of cooperation. However, the multidimensional challenges in our wider neighbourhood also require it.” Further, he urged about “following international and maritime laws and independence and territorial integrity for all countries without foreign interference.”
During the forum, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias commented, “What unites us all today is the condemnation of illegal acts and the condemnation of irrational acts that undermine peace and security… Our goal is to create a bulwark against threats, violence, extremism, intolerance and distortion of religion.”
Geopolitical experts focusing on the region believe that through the statement, Dendias made a reference to Turkey’s aggression in the region as a consequence of Erdogan’s attempts to fulfil his Caliphate desires. They also argued that the creation of such a platform would be important in ensuring that NATO reduces its dependence on Turkey and does not get blackmailed by it. Further, it might also play a dominant role in checking the movement and deployment of Turkish mercenaries in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Cyprus, and the East Mediterranean.
Another diplomatic expert argued that through the creation of such a platform, Greece has made a smart and crucial move as it has been able to bring together the European and Arab world, especially the countries troubled by President Erdogan’s expansionist and extremist agenda. The important strategic location of Greece has certainly acted in its favour.