WASHINGTON, April 9, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) welcomed today's introduction of the "Eastern Mediterranean Security and Partnership Act" by Senators Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida).
"The United States has significant national security interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, bolstered by strong and expanding relationships with Greece, Israel, and Cyprus. The cooperation in energy security among these countries in recent years has paved the way for cooperation on a broad, regional security, economic, and energy agenda," said Senator Menendez. "The time has come for the U.S. to deepen this cooperation and build on the constructive progress made by our allies to help ensure a secure Eastern Mediterranean. This legislation seeks to strengthen our bonds of friendship through joint efforts to promote peace, prosperity, and security for our nations."
"America's active presence and engagement in the Eastern Mediterranean region is critical to advancing our national security interests," Senator Rubio said. "This important bill will build upon efforts to enhance U.S. security and energy cooperation with our allies and partners such as Greece and Cyprus."
AJC CEO David Harris said: "At a time when the Eastern Mediterranean is emerging as a distinct and vital geopolitical region, efforts of Congress to secure U.S. leadership and bolster existing partnerships should be applauded."
The Act provides tools for a comprehensive U.S. strategy in the region, covering energy cooperation, security matters, and countering malign influences in the area. The Act's provisions will:
- Lift the arms embargo on Cyprus.
- Make the United States a more active participant in energy diplomacy in the region.
- Increase IMET (International Military Educational Training) program funding and reintroduce Foreign Military Assistance for Greece.
- Echo recently introduced restrictions on F35 transfers to Turkey, and monitor Turkey's use of American weapons against U.S. allies and strategic partners.
- Monitor Russia activity in the area.
"Today's Mediterranean is reclaiming much of its historic importance," said Endy Zemenides, Executive Director of HALC. "Developments in the greater Eastern Mediterranean region will effect U.S. interests in Europe, the Middle East, and beyond. We applaud the leadership of Senators Menendez and Rubio. This Act will make a difference."
For the past six years, AJC and HALC have advocated for a more comprehensive U.S. strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean. The two groups collaborated on the creation of the Congressional Hellenic Israel Alliance caucus and on multiple policy initiatives in the region. Both AJC and HALC enthusiastically support the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Partnership Act and will work to achieve its adoption by Congress.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee