Skip to main content

Israel's president in Greece to calm ally ahead of Turkey visit

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou (L) and her Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog review the presidential guard during an official welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Athens
— Athens (AFP)

Israel's President Isaac Herzog was in Greece Thursday for a trip aimed in part at reassuring an ally as Israel makes an outreach to Turkey, with tensions fraught between Athens and Ankara.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine overshadowed the visit and Herzog opened a meeting with his Greek counterpart Katerina Sakellaropoulou by voicing support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and concern for the nation's Jewish community.

He then stressed the importance of Israel's "bold... (and) strategic partnership" with Greece, where he was making one-day trip ahead of his planned visit to Ankara next month for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a prominent critic of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.

Experts have said Israel must ensure its rapprochement with Turkey does not undermine its ties with Mediterranean neighbours Greece and Cyprus, two states with long-standing acrimony towards Erdogan's Turkey.

Oded Eran, a senior researcher at the Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies, told AFP that Herzog's mission in Athens was to stress that "the attempt to improve relations with Turkey will absolutely not come at the expense of ties with Greece."

At his meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Herzog underscored that the Israeli-Greek relationship was "going from strength to strength."

An Israeli official who requested anonymity told AFP that "the improvement in the ties with Turkey is not coming at the expense of the very important relations with Greece and Cyprus."

Relations between majority-Muslim Turkey and the Jewish state froze over after the death of 10 civilians in an Israeli raid on a Turkish flotilla carrying aid for the Gaza strip in 2010.

Relations between Israel and Greece have, meanwhile, deepened over the past decade.

In 2019, Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Italy and the Palestinian territories agreed to create the "East Mediterranean Gas Forum" -- without Turkey.

And in 2020, Israel, Greece and Cyprus signed the EastMed deal for a pipeline to ship gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe, triggering objections from Ankara.

The United States has also raised concern about the project, citing possible issues over its "commercial viability."

Israeli media have reported that Washington may also be resisting the EastMed deal as a gesture to Erdogan.

Erdogan said he expected Herzog's upcoming visit to "open a new chapter in relations between Turkey and Israel".

Turkish state media have said Herzog's visit is set for March 9 and 10.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Free

The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.

Free

What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing
Expert

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to pro.support@al-monitor.com and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Already a Member? Sign in

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial