Home Community AHI Examines the Biden Administration’s East Med Police One Year Out

AHI Examines the Biden Administration’s East Med Police One Year Out

WASHINGTON, DC— The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted a Virtual Speakers Forum, “Eastern Mediterranean Policy Under the Biden Administration: An Analysis After the First Year”, on March 1, 2022.

The panelists were: Doug Bandow, senior fellow, Cato Institute; Dr. Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; and Dr. Constantine Arvanitopoulos, professor and chair of the Karamanlis Hellenic and European Studies Program at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. AHI President Nick Larigakis served as a moderator for the discussion and facilitated the Q&A.

Dr. Rubin weaved in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as part of his analysis of the Eastern Mediterranean. He clearly stated there is no difference between how Russian President Vladimir Putin looks at Ukraine and how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan looks at Cyprus. He also advocated for arming Cyprus as a measure of deterrence.

“American policymakers should learn two chief lessons from the Ukraine crisis”, Dr. Rubin said. “First, we must take revanchist ideologies seriously. There is no difference between how Putin looks at Ukraine and Erdogan looks at Cyprus and the Aegean. Second, being proactive promotes peace. Arming potential victims deters aggression. It is time to provide Cyprus with the means to defend itself against Turkish drones”, he added.

Bandow stated the Mediterranean remains important to America. Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia as all intersect the region. Turkey has a central role in the Eastern Mediterranean, he said, and unfortunately, it is almost an entirely negative one.

“American policymakers must no longer make decisions based on the historical importance of Turkey which they remember, but on its actions today”, he said.

Arvanitopoulos addressed the Biden Administration’s policies in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece’s improving the relations with the United States, and the question of Turkey’s role in the war in Ukraine.

“The Biden administration has not undertaken any major policy initiatives in the Eastern Mediterranean region or the Middle East. It’s policies in the region have elements of continuity and change with past policies. The Greek-American relations have continued to flourish. With a new defense agreement and an increased military presence of US forces on Greek soil, the strategic partnership between the two countries has been strengthened considerably”, Arvanitopoulos said.

He added: “The common values of freedom, democracy, and human rights are the foundation of the bilateral relationship and the regional alliance among Greece, Israel, and Cyprus supported by the US.
The Biden administration’s policy towards Turkey has been cautious, in an effort to maintain Turkey in a Western orbit. The war in Ukraine will be a testing ground for the US-Turkey relationship, regarding Turkey’s willingness to side with the West or resort to policies of an “evasive neutral”.

“Regarding the elements of change one can cite the Biden administration’s change of heart with respect to the EastMed pipeline. Given, however, the recent developments in Ukraine and Europe’s need to decrease its energy dependence upon Russia, the East Med deserves a more careful consideration”, Arvanitopoulos concluded.