By: Kashif Anwar, Research Analyst, GSDN
In the global geopolitics, the formation of alliance, partnership, blocks and groups has allowed nations to secure their common interest and ensure peace and stability in the directed or concern region. Among all such developments the formation of a trilateral group between Israel, Cyprus and Greece which later included the US has allowed these three founding members to enhance and develop their relationship into a strategic partnership. With change in technology, increase in conflict worldwide and the growing need for energy has become a hot topic for any country has only impacted the global order. The 3+1 trilateral group has been viewed as one such group who is working to address such queries in the Mediterranean region. As relationship between Israel, Greece and Cyprus has been part of their holistic strategy of their foreign policy which has allowed them to cooperate on various agenda with like-minded countries. In this regard, invitation to India to attend the 10th Trilateral Summit in 2024 reflects the strength, relevance and prospect of the group who is looking for a country like India to join them in their journey to ensure peace, stability and prospect in Eastern Mediterranean.
What is the 3+1 Alliance
On January 28, 2016, Greece, Cyprus and Israel came together to initiate the trilateral summit directed to promote peace, stability and security in the Eastern Mediterranean. The group aimed to achieve this through substantive and practical strengthening of joint ventures in all the ﬁelds of cooperation which isn’t directed against any country. As they agreed to cooperate in the ﬁeld of energy, tourism, research and technology, environment, water management, terrorism and migration. Formulation of trilateral cooperation was a historic event bringing the blessings of progress not only to the citizens of three democracies but also to the wider region by helping stability, security, prosperity and peace.
The group improved relationship between Israel, Cyprus and Greece transforming into a strategic partnership based on a shared common vision for a thriving Eastern Mediterranean.
The prospect of substantial hydrocarbon resources waiting to be tapped beneath the Eastern Mediterranean waters have sparked major global interest. Energy being common denominator, it will become a main component of the geostrategic struggle in the East Mediterranean and its surroundings. As the resources requires careful management to ensure peace, stability, security and prosperity in the region to avoid confrontation and friction disturbing trade in the region which could impact global trade. Thus, the inclusion of the US expanded the group – formed 3+1 – which expanded the scope and role of the trilateral cooperation in the region.
Invitation to India join the alliance and its geopolitical implications
With India’s bilateral relationship with the US and Israel have improved in recent years which brought them together as reflected from the I2U2. The invitation to India to join the 3+1 group is viewed as of great strategic relevance for the group and India. India’s inclusion and Turkey’s role, position and aim towards the Eastern Mediterranean cannot be viewed as separate events. With the Eastern Mediterranean region becoming a hotbed of geopolitical activity, and India making inroads has caused contentment and concern in the region. As the region is strategically important, rich in natural gas, and riddled with the maritime territorial disputes. The news that India is planning to join the group has directly challenged Turkey in its backyard, and is bound to ruffle some feathers in Ankara.
Invitation to India to attend the group and hopefully join the 3+1 group next year during the 10th Trilateral Summit highlights the group’s continued intention to invite like-minded countries to strengthened its aim and objectives. Such decision was taken during the 9th Trilateral Summit which was held in Nicosia, Cyprus to discuss regional energy cooperation and focus on exports to Europe, especially natural gas and renewables. The Group views such partnership will strengthen their resolute efforts intend for Eastern Mediterranean as common interests will increase the prospect of the group, compelling other countries to cooperate or even join such a group in the near future.
Such partnership will ensure peace, stability and security in the Eastern Mediterranean region, the group is looking for a way to ensure the growing need for the energy diversification, interconnectivity and a reliable energy corridor from the region basin to Europe is secured. In the recent years, the need for energy has increased and thus the need to ensure countries abide by and respect the international laws like the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) has become the need of the hour. In the last 15 years, major gas discoveries have been made in Eastern Mediterranean Sea, particularly off the coasts of Israel (Tamar Field) and Egypt, and more such gas exploration is taking place in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone.
As the Eastern Mediterranean has been riddled with maritime territorial disputes for years, caused by Turkey, who claims EEZ beyond its water assigned under the UNCLOS which has caused dispute with Greece and Cyprus. Further, with Europe diversifying its source of energy demands caused by the Russa-Ukraine conflict, Greece could play the role of a gateway. With India diversifying its source of energy demands, considering the prospect of India joining the group and its bilateral relationship with Greece will allow the flow of natural gas both ways to Europe and India.
With Abraham Accord being a success and another such accord is being made or on the table between Israel and Saudi Arabia, all such developments succees in happening will transit gas from Greece to India through Israel and the Arabian Peninsula providing a safe and stable trade route. Such aspects were visible during India’s PM Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Greece which was strategically planned to ensure India’s engagement in gas exploration and transportation in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Thus, India joining the 3+1 group in near future will ensure the above mentioned aspects giving India ample window of opportunities to thwart Turkey’s anti-India stance and improve its bilateral ties with other Mediterranean nations. Such aspect will keep Turkey caution while ensuring the need and supply of India’s energy demand is secured to propel its economic growth improving India’s global stature and strengthening its foreign policy.
Development of the 3+1 group was viewed as a great achievement which was inconceivable 20 years ago as Israel’s Ambassador to Cyprus Oren Anolik stated, as it speaks volumes of the success it has achieved since its inception. As it is envisioned to enhance the regional cooperation through the creation of various linkages at different levels, it allows them to extend invitation to India to join the group which will be a win-win situation for group’s members. On the other hand, over the years has allowed them to enhance multilateral engagement and defence cooperation with the US, like it bolsters US support for Greece military modernisation. The recent 9th Trilateral Conference, 2023, happened at the time when they’re constructing an ‘Energy Highway’ which will connect national electricity grid of all three nations. India becoming a partner of the group in near future will allow Israel, Cyprus, Greece and India to engage in the defence cooperation and supply chain too. As it will further pushed, strengthened and promote India’s Make in India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative, something India’s foreign and defence policy are working tirelessly and thus strategic cooperation with the like-minded nations is highly required today.