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UAE, Greece ramp up defense, energy collaboration through new strategic partnership

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The UAE and Greece are ramping up defense and energy collaboration through a new strategic partnership announced on Wednesday at a high-level meeting.

The new partnership will include “convergence on regional issues of mutual concern” and the confrontation of “joint challenges threatening regional and international peace, security, and stability,” according to Emirati state news agency WAM.

Read more: UAE’s Gargash calls Egypt, Greece Mediterranean economic zone agreement ‘victory’

The partnership follows the voicing of concern by both Emirati and Greek officials over Turkey’s interference in the region.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis were present when the partnership was announced.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, left, with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. (Twitter)
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, left, with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. (Twitter)

“Our two countries are facing challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean through the same perspective,” said Mitsotakis in a statement on Thursday, according to the Greek City Times.

Greece has been in a standoff with Turkey over oil and gas exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean. Meanwhile, in August, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash advised Ankara to “stop interfering in Arab affairs.”

Turkey signed an agreement last year with Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea, which prompted disputes with Greece and Cyprus over energy exploration, among other countries, and has prompted international condemnation.

This handout photograph released by the Turkish Defence Ministry on August 12, 2020, shows Turkish seismic research vessel 'Oruc Reis' heading in the west of Antalya on the Mediterranean Sea. (AFP)
This handout photograph released by the Turkish Defence Ministry on August 12, 2020, shows Turkish seismic research vessel 'Oruc Reis' heading in the west of Antalya on the Mediterranean Sea. (AFP)

With the agreement, Turkey claims “the right to manage, regulate and dominate the distribution – if not the actual exploitation – of the vast reserves of liquid natural gas in that part of the Mediterranean,” according to Hussein Ibish, a scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute.

As part of the announcement, Greece also expressed its commitment to “reinforcing the historic ties between the UAE and the European Union.”

The partnership goes beyond defense and foreign policy collaboration and includes the consolidation of trade and tourism ties, as well as the strengthening of partnership in the energy, culture sectors, and digital sectors.

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