US East Med Security and Energy Partnership Act to be approved

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The “Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership” which envisages US support for regional cooperation between Cyprus, Greece and Israel will be voted into an Act by Congress by December 20.

The bill was tabled at the Senate by Democrat Robert Menendez and Republican Mark Rubio, and in the House by Republican Costas Bilirakis and Democrat David Sicilline.

The House plenary is expected to vote on the bill in two sections, on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Senate will follow.

The whole procedure should be wrapped up and signed on Friday by President Donald Trump.

Over the next couple of days, the Senate is also expected to approve the budget on national defence, which includes provisions for the lifting of the arms embargo on the Republic of Cyprus.

The Act authorizes to be appropriated for the fiscal year 2021 up to $3,000,000 for Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance for Greece to assist the country in meeting its commitment as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to dedicate 20 per cent of its defence budget to enhance research and development.

Furthermore, there is authorized to be appropriated $1,300,000 for fiscal year 2020, $1,500,000 for 2021, and $1,800,000 for 2022 for International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance for Greece and $200,000 for fiscal year 2020, $500,000 for 2021, and $750,000 for 2022 in such assistance for Cyprus.

In the findings, it is noted that the security of partners and allies in the Eastern Mediterranean region is critical to the security of the United States and Europe.

It views Greece as a valuable member of NATO and a key pillar of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean; Israel is a steadfast ally of the United States and has been designated a ‘‘major non-NATO ally’’ and ‘‘major strategic partner’’; and Cyprus is a key strategic partner and signed a Statement of Intent with the United States on November 6, 2018, to enhance bilateral security cooperation.

It refers to the participation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the trilateral summit among Israel, Greece, and Cyprus on March 20, 2019, and notes that the US, Israel, Greece, and Cyprus oppose any action in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea that could challenge stability, violate international law, or undermine good neighbourly relations.

The East Med Act states that, not later than 90 days after the date of approval, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defence and the Secretary of Energy, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report listing incidents since January 15, 2017, determined by the Secretary of State to interfere in efforts by the Republic of Cyprus to explore and exploit natural resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone.

The Act says: “The Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of Energy, may enter into cooperative agreements supporting and enhancing dialogue and planning involving international partnerships between the United States and Israel, Greece, and the Republic of Cyprus.”

The Secretary of Energy, in coordination with the Secretary of State, may establish a joint United States-Eastern Mediterranean Energy Centre in the United States to develop more robust academic cooperation in energy innovation technology and analysis of emerging geopolitical implications, which include opportunities as well as crises and threats from foreign natural resource and energy acquisitions.