25052019Headline:

Defence Minister Apostolakis meets U.S. Senator Bob Menendez

Defence Minister Evangelos Apostolakis met on Monday with the head of Democrats in the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez.

The meeting focused on bilateral relations in the Eastern Mediterranean and the security environment in the Middle East, a ministry announcement said.

Welcoming the US Senator, Apostolakis noted that their meeting was a great opportunity “for us to present to you our views on US-Greece’s cooperation in defence, which is becoming ever more important.”

“This meeting coincides with your recent initiative referring to the draft law on security and energy cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean in 2019. It is very important for us as it is your first visit to Greece,” concluded Apostolakis.

U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Marko Rubio recently introduced the bipartisan legislation “Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019”. According to a committee announcement, this would:

Require the Administration to submit to Congress a strategy on enhanced security and energy cooperation with countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as reports on malign activities by Russia and other countries in the region (including Turkish violations of Greek air space and Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone);

Lift the prohibition on arms sales to the Republic of Cyprus;

Impede the transfer of F-35 aircraft to Turkey, as long as Turkey continues with plans to purchase the S-400 air defence system from the Russian Federation, a purchase that would be sanctionable under U.S. law;

Authorise the establishment of a United States-Eastern Mediterranean Energy Center to facilitate energy cooperation between the U.S., Israel, Greece, and Cyprus;

Authorise 3,000,000 US dollars in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance for Greece;

Authorise 2,000,000 US dollars for International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance for Greece and 2,000,000 US dollars for Cyprus.