Since May 1991, diplomatic relations between the two countries have been upgraded from Diplomatic Representation to Embassy level. Greece is represented in Israel through its embassy in Tel Aviv, its Consulate General in Jerusalem, and an honorary consulate in Haifa. Israel is represented in Greece through its embassy in Athens. Whilst relations between the two countries have been less warm in the late 20th century, since 2008 they have become one of the strongest relations in the Eastern Mediterranean. Israel and Greece consider each other as their stronger collaborator in the aspects of military, intelligence, economy and culture. Both countries are part of the Energy Triangle which referred to the extraction of oil and gas from both Israel and Cyprus by 2015, which will be delivered to mainland Europe with a pipeline through Greece.
- 1 History
- 2 Current relations
- 3 Military collaboration
- 4 Energy cooperation
- 5 Cooperation between Israeli and Greek lobbies in the United States
- 6 Agricultural Co-operation
- 7 Cultural relations
- 8 Greek singers to Israel
- 9 Greek resistance to the Holocaust
- 10 Visits
- 11 Country comparison
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Greece recognized the State of Israel in 15 March 1949 but was diplomatically represented in Tel Aviv on lower-than-embassy level. Bilateral trade doubled between 1989 and 1995. That year Israel exported $200 million worth of chemicals and oil products to Greece and imported $150 million worth of cement, food, and building materials. Israel is the second largest importer of Greek products in the Middle East. In the 1990s, Greece signed a defense cooperation agreement with Israel. While Greece has traditionally been supportive of the Palestinians, efforts were made to improve ties with Israel. Tensions existed due to Israel's perception of Greek favoritism towards the Arabs and support of terrorists, particularly under Andreas Papandreou who was Greek prime minister twice, in 1981–89 and 1993-96. Israeli military cooperation with Turkey in the 1990s also contributed to the poor relations, as have controversies over the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem. In August 2010, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit Greece. On his two-day tour, the Prime Minister discussed with the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou the possibility of expanding strategic ties and establishing greater cooperation between the nations' militaries and related industries. Israeli diplomats expressed their consent to expand ties with Greece since relations with Turkey soured following the Gaza flotilla incident in May 2010.
Relations between Greece and Israel improved since 1995 due to the decline of Israeli-Turkish relations under the AK Party of prime minister Erdoğan, Greece's desire to increase its deterrent power against Turkey, the death of Papandreou in June 1996, and the improvement in U.S.-Greece relations. In 2006, President Moshe Katsav visited Greece, in what was the first official visit by an Israeli head of state. Greece–Israel relations improved as Turkish-Israel relations worsened in the aftermath of the Gaza flotilla raid in May 2010. In July 2010 Greek Prime minister George Papandreou (son of Andreas Papandreou) made an official visit to Israel after many years, in order to improve bilateral relations between the two countries. During Netanyahu's reciprocal visit in August 2010, the leaders of the two states discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran, and military and economic cooperation in a one-on-one meeting that lasted an hour and a half. In January 2011 Foreign Minister of Israel Avigdor Liberman made a state visit to Athens. During that visit, the two countries reportedly set up a joint committee to study ways of improving cooperation on strategic and anti-terror issues.
In November 2011, the Israeli Air Force hosted Greece’s Hellenic Air Force in a joint exercise at the Uvda base. Greece sent five F-16 block 52 fighter jets for a five-day exercise, which included practice air fights as well as ground attacks. Israeli F-15 and F-16 fighter jets also participated in the exercise, along with Boeing fuel supplier airplanes.
Similar training was held in 2012 by the IAF in cooperation with the Hellenic Air Force in the Peloponnese and parts of southern Greece in a response to the need of the IAF training of pilots in unfamiliar areas.
On March 14, 2013 the navies of Israel, Greece and the US held a two-week joint military exercise for the third year in a row. The annual operation is nicknamed Noble Dina and was established in 2011. Similar to Noble Dina in 2012, the exercise in 2013 included defending offshore natural gas platforms and simulated air-to-air combat and anti-submarine warfare.
In November 2013 Israel hosted its biggest aerial maneuver drill code-named 'Blue Flag'. The exercise included seven combat squadrons from the Israeli Air Force and one squadron each from the air forces of Greece, the United States and Italy. Half of Israel’s air space has been closed to traffic for the exercise, extending from the center of the country southwards. The pilots practised attacks on enemy bases and as tactics for combating anti-aircraft measures, including shoulder-held missiles, advanced surface-to-air missiles and radar systems. Observers including military attaches and representatives from Cyprus and Bulgaria were viewing the drill.
The joint Cyprus-Israel oil and gas explorations centered on the Leviathan gas field are also an important factor for Greece, given its strong links with Cyprus. ΔΕΗ-Quantum Energy, a Cyprus-based group including Greece's state-controlled power utility Public Power Corporation of Greece (PPC, also known as ΔΕΗ) is planning to lay the world's longest subsea power cable, linking Israel, Cyprus and Greece. The link, called the EuroAsia Interconnector project, would be the longest in the world. The tripartite energy memorandum of understanding came after nearly a year of negotiations and was signed in Nicosia, Cyprus, by Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom; Nicos Kouyialis, the Cypriot minister of agriculture, natural resources and environment; and George Lakkotrypis, the Greek minister for the environment, energy and climate change.
On 8 August Greece, Israel and Cyprus signed the tripartite energy memorandum of understanding after the completion of one year negotiation in Nicosia. Negotiations were held between the Energy and Water Resources Minister of Israel Silvan Shalom, the Cypriot minister of agriculture, natural resources and environment Nicos Kouyialis and the Greek minister of environment, energy and climate change George Lakkotrypis. The 2,000-mega-watt EuroAsia Interconnector is planned to lift Cyprus and Israel out of energy isolation through cheaper electricity as supported by George Lakkotrypis. Silvan Shalom announced that the agreement is "historic" and insisted that it demonstrated the powerful relations between the countries the three countries adding that the electric conduit will become a cable and is going to export electricity to the European energy market. The Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras proclaimed on 8 August that Israel has a special role to play in supplying Europe with energy resources and supported that it can become a key energy hub.
Cooperation between Israeli and Greek lobbies in the United States
A new joint action committee for the Greek-Israeli alliance has been created in the U.S. Congress in early 2013. The creation and goals of the Greek-Israeli Caucus under the name Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance were announced at a special event held in the Congress. It is co-chaired by Congress members Gus Bilirakis the Republican representative from Florida and Ted Deutch the Democrat from Florida, and the Greek-Israeli Caucus consists of powerful members of both Republican and Democratic party. It is estimated that it may become the most important pressure group in Congress by 2014.
On 13 March 2013 in Washington the Israeli ambassador Michael Oren hosted the launching of a new congressional grouping dedicated to improving Israeli-Greek-Cypriot ties. Attending the launch were the co-chairmen of the newly established Hellenic-Israel Caucus, Ted Deutch and Gus Bilirakis as well as lawmakers including John Sarbanes and Eliot Engel, the senior Democrat on the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren in his remarks at the dinner at his residence touted shared economic and strategic interests among Greece, Cyprus and Israel. The Greek ambassador Christos Panagopoulos in Washington announced that cooperation among the three countries would bring “peace, stability and prosperity” to the region. Also addressing the event was Olympia Neocleous, the chargé d'affaires at the Cypriot embassy in Washington.
With the passing of Greek-American Leader Andrew Athens, the AJC has honored his pioneering work to advance Greek-Jewish and Hellenic-Israeli ties more than once. The most recent occasion occurred in recognition of Athens’ 90th birthday before AJC’s National Board of Governors and invited guests from the political and diplomatic communities, in his hometown of Chicago in 2011. Partnering early on with his cherished friend, the late Maynard Wishner, a fellow Chicagoan and AJC national leader, Athens spearheaded a number of joint AJC and Greek-American delegations to Greece, Cyprus and Israel.
The arid topography of Israel has spurred Israeli scientists to develop innovative farming methods and desalination technologies. The start of an efficient desalination by Israeli scientists as planned will be a boost to many of Greece’s islands such as Santorini that suffer inadequate freshwater reserves and must often rely on shipped water. Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Athanassios Tsaftaris in a visit to Israel with Israeli Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Orit Noked in 2011 emphasised that both governments are very interested in further boosting agricultural development.
Many of the most promiment Orthodox Christian and Jewish interfaith officials, scholars and clerics held a three day conference in Thessaloniki in June 2013 to discuss the crucial importance of protecting the environment and religious values and condemned events of anti-Semitism and religious prejudice around the world. The meeting had an aim to help improve even further relations between these two ancient faith communities. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has declared 2013 the Year of Global Solidarity thus Metropolitan Emmanuel declared: “It is well documented that Greeks living in Thessaloniki at the time of the Shoah stood with their Jewish neighbors and friends. Today, more than ever, we must stand together to battle the evils of anti-Semitism, religious prejudice and all forms of discrimination.” The Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem is an autocephalous Orthodox Church within the wider communion of Orthodox Christianity and it is headed by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and it is regarded by Orthodox Christians as the mother church of all of Christendom. Christians believe that it was in Jerusalem that the Church was established on the day of Pentecost with the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:1-41) and that the Gospel of Christ spread from Jerusalem. The Church celebrates its liturgy in the Byzantine rite, whose original language is Koine Greek, and follows its own calendar of feasts.
Greek singers to Israel
Greek music is considered the most popular foreign genre in Israel after Anglo (British/American) music. Israel is the top destination for Greek Music concerts among Germany, the United Kingdom and Cyprus. Popular Greek singers who have performed in Israel include Eleftheria Arvanitaki, George Dalaras, Haris Alexiou, Glykeria and Natassa Theodoridou. In December 2012 Natassa Theodoriou performed some of her songs in Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center in Hebrew.
A special broadcasting day of Greek classical and modern music was organised on 12 June 2013 by the Israel Broadcasting Authority, in cooperation with the Embassy of Greece in Tel Aviv. The program started with an hourly show, presented by Ambassador Lampridis and the Director of the Radio Station Arie Yass with an emphasis on the roots and the historical evolution of modern Greek music. During the whole day, Kol Ha Musica broadcast works of modern Greek composers including Hatzidakis, Theodorakis, Spanoudakis, Remboutsika, Karaidrou, Mikroutsikos and Markopoulos. The programme also included and sephardi music from Thessaloniki and Rhodes.
Greek resistance to the Holocaust
Greece is ranked as the first country in the Balkans with most people who were awarded as Righteous Among the Nations. Greek population was significantly active in hiding fellow Greeks of Jewish religion. Even though Jews of Thessaloniki were easily deported from Thessaloniki collaboration was minimal in Athens and there Nazi propaganda was not as effective, as the ancient Romaniote Jewish communities were well-integrated into the Orthodox Greek society and could not easily be singled out from the Christians, who in turn were more ready to resist the German authorities' demands. The Archbishop of Athens Damaskinos ordered his priests to ask their congregations to help the Jews and sent a strong-worded letter of protest to the collaborationist authorities and the Germans. Many Orthodox Christians risked their lives hiding Jews in their apartments and homes, despite threat of imprisonment. Even the Greek police ignored instructions to turn over Jews to the Germans. When Jewish community leaders appealed to Prime Minister Ioannis Rallis, he tried to alleviate their fears by saying that the Jews of Thessaloniki had been guilty of subversive activities and that this was the reason they were deported. At the same time, Elias Barzilai, the Grand Rabbi of Athens, was summoned to the Department of Jewish Affairs and told to submit a list of names and addresses of members of the Jewish community. Instead he destroyed the community records, thus saving the lives of thousands of Athenian Jews. He advised the Jews of Athens to flee or go into hiding. A few days later, the Rabbi himself was spirited out of the city by EAM-ELAS fighters and joined the resistance. EAM-ELAS helped hundreds of Jews escape and survive (especially officer Stefanos Sarafis), many of whom stayed with the resistance as fighters and/or interpreters.
|Area||131,990 km2 (50,944sq mi)||20,770 km2 (8,019 mi)|
|Population Density||85.3/km2 (221/sq mi)||347/km2 (925/sq mi)|
|Largest City||Athens – 3,074,160 (3,737,550Metro)||Jerusalem – 780,200|
|Government||Parliamentary republic||Parliamentary republic|
|First Leader||Michail Stasinopoulos||Chaim Weizmann|
|Current Leader||Karolos Papoulias||Shimon Peres|
|Official languages||Greek||Hebrew and Arabic|
|Main religions||98% Christianity, 1.3% Muslim, 0.7% Others||75,4% Jews, 20,89% Muslim, 7,8% Others|
|Ethnic groups||93.76% Greeks, 4.32% Albanians, 0.39% Bulgarians,
0.23% Romanians, 0.18% Ukrainians, 0.14% Pakistani,
0.12% Russians, 0.12% Georgians. 0.09% Indians, 0.65% Others
|75,4% Jews, 20,6% Arab, 4,1% Others|
|GDP (nominal)||US$303.065 billion ($27,073 per capita)||US$236.994 billion ($31,467 per capita)|
|Military expenditures||$7,502,000,000 (2.3% of GDP)||$50,600,000,000(6.9%% of GDP)|
- Energy Triangle
- International recognition of Israel
- History of the Jews in Greece
- EuroAsia Interconnector
- Israel–Turkey relations
- Cyprus–Israel relations
- Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- "What a gas! - Israel’s new gas finds may affect its strategic friendships too". The Economist. 2010-11-11. Retrieved 2012-01-30.
- TDS travel document systems
- "GREECE AND THE MIDDLE EAST" Spiros Ch. Kaminaris, Middle East Review of International Affairs, volume 3, number 2 (June 1999).
- "Middle East | Analysis: Middle East's 'phantom alliance'". BBC News. 1999-02-18. Retrieved 2010-06-05.
- Greek-Israel Relations
- Israel to recognize Greek Patriarch
- AN OUTLINE OF GREEK-ISRAELI STRATEGIC RELATIONS, John M. Nomikos, Research Institute for European and American Studies.
- PM Netanyahu welcomes Greek PM Papandreou, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 22 Jul 2010
- Jerusalem Post:PM: Direct talks coming soon
- Israel woos Greece after rift with Turkey BBC, 16 October 2010
- "Israel's new friend: Why Greece is thwarting Gaza flotilla" by Joshua Mitnick, Christian Science Monitor, July 5, 2011
- "Analysis: Alliance shifts behind Greece Gaza stand", Associated Press, July 7, 2011
- http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-hosts-greek-air-force-for-joint-excercise-1.401009 Israel hosts Greek Air Force for joint exercise
- The Associated Press (2011-09-26). "Turkey, Greece discuss exploration off Cyprus". Haaretz. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
- Reuters (2012-01-30). "Group proposes electricity link between Israel, Greece and Cyprus". Haaretz. Retrieved 2012-01-30.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Relations of Greece and Israel.|
- Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs about relations with Israel
- Israel embassy in Athens
- Israel, Turkey, and Greece: Uneasy Relations in the East Mediterranean By Amikam Nachmani
- Turkey and Israel:Crisis in the Horizon and the end of an Alliance? http://www.rieas.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1095:turkey-and-israel-crisis-in-the-horizon-and-the-end-of-an-alliance-&catid=23&Itemid=70
- Turkey and Israel:Crisis in the Horizon and the end of an Alliance?Part II http://www.rieas.gr/images/mavro1.pdf
- Learning Tactics and Strategies from the Strongest Lobby of the World.(By Nickolaos Mavromates) http://www.diasporacouncil.com/2011/10/10/learning-tactics-and-strategies-from-the-strongest-lobby-of-the-world/