Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act Passes Through Senate Foreign Relations Committee
June 25, 2019 — Washington — The Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) celebrated today’s passage of the “Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act” — authored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) — through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“I am thrilled to see such strong bipartisan support for this important piece of legislation to chart a new path forward for the eastern Mediterranean,” said Senator Menendez. “Israel, Greece, and Cyprus are key partners of the United States, and today’s vote confirms that we need a new strategy that reflects our mutual interests. The Eastern Mediterranean is a region of central importance to our country, and it must therefore figure more prominently in how we allocate diplomatic energy, engagement and resources. I look forward to working with my colleagues so that this important legislation is swiftly considered and approved by the full Senate.”
The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 would:
- Lift the prohibition on arms sales to the Republic of Cyprus;
- Authorize the establishment of a United States-Eastern Mediterranean Energy Center to facilitate energy cooperation between the U.S., Israel, Greece, and Cyprus;
- Authorize $3,000,000 in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance for Greece;
- Authorize International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance for Greece and Cyprus from fiscal years 2020–2022.
- Impede the transfer of F-35 aircraft to Turkey, as long as Turkey continues with plans to purchase the S-400 air defense system from the Russian Federation, a purchase that would be sanctionable under U.S. law.
- Require the Administration to submit to Congress a strategy on enhanced security and energy cooperation with countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as reports on malign activities by Russia and other countries in the region.
“This is an important step towards a comprehensive regional strategy for the U.S. in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said Endy Zemenides, Executive Director of HALC. “Positive regional trends — especially cooperation on energy and security — will be accelerated by this Act. The leadership of Senators Menendez and Rubio and of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will make the region more stable and prosperous and will advance both American interests and values.”
Julie Fishman Rayman, Director of Political Outreach for the American Jewish Committee (AJC), explained why the AJC has made the Act a policy priority. “The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act will strengthen regional security, expand existing cooperation, and ensure American leadership. We thank Senators Menendez and Rubio for their vision which reflects the realities on the ground in the region and helps support vital American allies and partners.”
According to Tasos Zambas, Chairman of the Justice for Cyprus Committee for the Federation of Cypriot-American Associations, “the East Med Act is a huge leap forward in U.S. relations with both Greece and Cyprus. It places Greece in the center of a new American strategy for the Eastern Mediterranean, and it stops the treatment of Cyprus as merely a problem but positions it as a solution. The Greek-American community thanks Senator Menendez for his decades of unparalleled leadership on these issues and to Senator Rubio for championing this new Eastern Mediterranean strategy.”
The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act will progress to the full Senate, and the House version of the Act has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs committee.
Further inquiries can be directed to Thanos Davelis, Director of Public Affairs at HALC: email@example.com, (312) 283–8616