Dr Lerman, you refer to ‘The Union for the Mediterranean’ as an important symbol of cooperation. What does this mean?
I refer to closer cooperation within the Mediterranean framework, which can be built block by block, as demonstrated by the 27 January 2016 tripartite summit of Israel, Cyprus and Greece (a parallel process already links Egypt, Cyprus and Greece and indirectly Jordan, as well). Export oriented gas policies can help cement links between the countries. This is not an effort to isolate Turkey, but rather to create a regional balance of power in which Turkey can find her place once her leaders change course.
Significant cultural affinities have a role of their own to play in promoting a Mediterranean strategic identity. This would serve Israel’s long-term interests – as well as those of Europe and of the US. It is time to let go of the old colonial concept, “Middle East”, and re-learn to think in Mediterranean terms.
Why does the Mediterranean matter?
The Mediterranean world is in turmoil. Conflicts, above all in Syria, spill over into terror and mass migration, turning the region into a focal point of international disorder. Still, as often happens, this sense of crisis can and should generate an opportunity for re-tooling regional strategies. At stake are the prospects for a gradual geo-political convergence of interests and the emergence of a community of like-minded regional players, with a common thread of identity, to pose a credible alternative to today’s fragmented and dangerous landscape.
While complex tensions persist across the region, key states in the Eastern Mediterranean (as well as Italy) are coming together to cooperate against common threats propagated by the turmoil in the region, but also to promote...