Washington, DC—The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted a Virtual Speakers Forum, “The Biden Administration and U.S. Foreign Policy Concepts in the Eastern Mediterranean,” January 27, 2021.
The panelists were: Ambassador Tom Miller, a former U.S. ambassador to Greece; Dr. Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Piero Tozzi, a senior foreign policy advisor and counsel to U.S. Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ). AHI President Nick Larigakis served as a moderator for the discussion and facilitated the Q&A.
Ambassador Miller highlighted six key issues of importance in the eastern Mediterranean: overflights and potential for military conflict between Greece and Turkey, energy, refugees, Cyprus, Turkish regional aspirations and finally the EU/NATO dimension.
Expanding on the point of potential conflict between Greece and Turkey, Amb. Miller warned that it would be detrimental for the countries involved and it also would impact the surrounding region, the European Union and NATO.
As for Turkey, “we all know it [Turkey] is impeding exploration and exploitation in large regions of the eastern Med,” Amb. Miller said.
“Greece and Cyprus together are really becoming the keystone in a coalescing axis of moderation and stability in the eastern Mediterranean,” Dr. Michael Rubin said.
Dr. Rubin’s perspective on the Biden administration’s posture on Greece, Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean is positive. He noted for the past three U.S. presidencies under Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan established himself as the “White House Whisperer,” but this will not be the case for a Biden administration.
“I think what is going to really show the strength of the development of our relations [with Greece and Cyprus] in the next decade, is the fact that there is a solid base of Democrats and Republicans who believe that this relationship is in the interest of the United States,” Rubin said.
Piero Tozzi reminded the audience of the role then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden played to the Greek American community and the importance of his understanding of the Cyprus issue. However, he highlighted the difference between Joe Biden the Senator, and Joe Biden the President, and what that means for U.S. policy in the eastern Mediterranean.
“We will see a level of professionalism and process, but there are other tensions that have an impact,” Tozzi said, referring to controversial policies then-Vice President Joe Biden is tied to from his position in the Obama administration.
With this webinar, AHI’s Virtual Speakers Forum began its 2021 season after a short hiatus in December.