Noam Katz spoke today about the developments in the Middle East during the discussion organized by the Delphi Economic Forum with the support of NATO on the topic: “From Ukraine to the Middle East: Implications for the security of Greece and the wider region”
“When we see the reality that was created after October 7, from a personal point of view, as an Israeli, it was a devastating shock,” pointed out Israel’s ambassador to Greece Noam Katz, speaking today at a round table discussion organized by the Delphi Economic Forum with NATO support on the topic: “From Ukraine to the Middle East: Impact on the security of Greece and the wider region”.
As he mentioned, he has friends who have been affected, who have lost loved ones, and his own family is in the military.
“We were all shocked and surprised by the ferocity and atrocity of Hamas,” he noted, speaking of a horrific, brutal massacre that was broadcast live on social media.
“But October 7 was a preview that showed us the need to get rid of such radical elements in the Middle East,” he pointed out. And so, he noted, when we think about Hamas, we have to see it, not just as an individual player, but as part of the proxies and mechanism that Iran has put in place in the region.
“We have two blocs that are emerging, we have one bloc that is basically a supportive democracy, open societies that believe in certain values that collide with a different ecosystem that is being created,” he noted.
On the other hand, Iran is also part of Russia’s ecosystem in its war in Ukraine.
“So we have a conflict between two different blocs that broke out in Ukraine, that broke out in the Middle East and that may break out in other parts of the world. And therefore, we need to strengthen our ability to cooperate, we need to think about these corridors, the transfer of energy trade, data cables and other ways that allow countries that share the same concept of stability and peace, to build a better future for them” noted Mr. Kats.
As he mentioned, it is not going to be a short war, due to the military challenge facing Israel, while he emphasized that the target is not the citizens of Gaza. But unfortunately, he said, Hamas has had effective control for so many years in Gaza, it has fortified and built an underground city under all residential areas in the Gaza Strip, regardless of whether there are always civilians there or critical civilian infrastructure such as hospitals. . “So it’s going to be very complicated.”
Write down that Israel’s goal is not to recapture the Gaza Strip, but to secure a better future, both for the Israelis and the Palestinians. “Because if there is Hamas there, no one will reinvest in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Gaza,” he added. He pointed out that after the end of the war, the Palestinian issue should be resolved around the negotiation table, “understanding that when we reach an agreement, it is permanent”. And therefore, Israel should find partners, as it finds in the moderate or realist Arab world, and in the Palestinians. “And the importance of the architecture of peace that will be built will be enormous. They should participate in the reconstruction of Gaza and maybe later in the dialogue that we will have.”
Asked about the day after the war, the ambassador pointed out that Israel will be a “realistic power that believes in diplomatic and political solutions.”
“We will have to change many things, it is the responsibility of both our societies,” he noted. “But I think there are forces that are really moderate, that can be taught, and we should go through a process of de-radicalizing Palestinian society.”
“We cannot allow ourselves to believe that there is a deterministic future,” he said. “I remember myself when I was a child and talking with my father about peace with Egypt, nobody thought it was possible, but it became a reality. Palestinian society is not Egypt, but we must take steps to make that happen in the future. I am a diplomat. I believe in change. I know that sometimes they are very slow, but I believe that they are possible.”
Ukrainian ambassador: Any weakness will be seen by Russia as permission to act further by dictating its own rules
“The unhappiness that a certain nation has fallen into can drag neighboring nations into the abyss, but the world is not doomed to disaster and unhappiness,” said Serhii Sutenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to Greece.
We all, he pointed out, remember the bitter experience of the Second World War, when a state personified by the whims of a leader disturbed the existing balance of power and led to the suffering of more than one nation. “But then the world showed unity and opposed these unhealthy ambitions, it was the united front, laying the foundations of a new democratic order based on rules.”
“By its actions, today’s Russia proves that it aspires to be above the rules. Thus, Russia’s attack on Ukraine became an expected manifestation of Putin’s power and authority. We have no right to make a mistake again,” said Mr. Sutenko.
“Ukrainians are not only protesting for the protection of their land, something more is being protected, which in the world is called the international order based on rules, the rule of law, democracy,” he underlined. “Russia is trying to change the borders of Ukraine, not only to occupy one or the other of our regions, but also to change any border it doesn’t like,” he pointed out. “And you’ve seen this before. In fact the efforts to prevent Ukraine from joining the EU and NATO are not only about our country, they are much more about being able to take from NATO or, or the EU, any nation that is already there, without even ask the will of this nation, but deciding everything for it.”
“Any weakness will be seen by Russia as permission to act further by dictating its own rules,” he noted and added: “This is not what our children deserve, but everyone. But it can become the reality of Europe.”
Ukraine, as Mr. Sutenko mentioned, is doing everything possible to end this war as soon as possible, and they are all grateful to all their supporters. He also underlined the need for unity in relation to the situation, the Middle East and to prevent an even bigger international fire breaking out in the Middle East.
He noted that there are clear indications that Russia will repeat the same scenario of last year to destroy infrastructure and critical power generation facilities to bring about blackouts, lack of heating and create the same unbearable conditions that existed last year. “I think Russia’s strategic goals remain,” he noted. “So I don’t see any consultation or any idea of compromise. Thus, there are no indications that the statements of the Russian leadership about possible readiness for negotiations are true, but a tactic to allow them to buy time.”
Th. Dokos: Greece will play an important role in the next day in Ukraine as well
It is the only way for Greece to continue supporting Ukraine, as the last thing we want is for any revisionist forces to draw their own conclusions, pointed out Thanos Dokos, the prime minister’s national security adviser.
He noted that this war could have secondary effects in terms of instability and the spread of this instability, among others, in the Balkans.
Another negative possibility, he said, would be a new round of Arab uprisings, due to uprisings fueled by widespread instability in the region.
“At the end of the day, NATO, I believe, came out stronger from the Ukrainian adventure, and the European Union has done things in terms of defense and security, which we could not have imagined years ago,” he underlined. “Of course, much more can be done, but let’s not underestimate or downplay the war, let’s not downplay what has been done so far. Of course, looking south, both NATO and the EU must have a more effective and efficient strategy.”
Regarding migration flows, Mr. Dokos pointed out that looking at the main medium-term and long-term trends leads to the conclusion that flows to Europe will continue or even intensify. “If Europe does not manage to adopt a common strategy on this issue, I think we will have difficult times, hybrid threats.” This term, as he pointed out, “has entered the everyday life of those who deal with security issues – and indeed, like the term resilience, it is a top priority”.
The issue of strategic communication is also a top priority, as we aggressively deal with disinformation campaigns by various agencies, governmental and non-governmental.
Regarding the role of Greece, he pointed out “that it is obvious the need to take a central role in the effort of the Western Balkans to enter the Euro-Atlantic structures – an asterisk here, provided that they meet the criteria that we are in, especially in what what concerns the rule of law”.
Mr. Dokos also spoke about the role of Alexandroupoli even now, during the crisis in Ukraine, but also the next day.
“Any security issue one can think of, from conflict and conflict to hybrid attacks, can be found in the wider region,” he pointed out. “There is a lack of a regional security architecture.” One step to overcome this could be the various tripartite partnerships, especially if they manage to combine into something bigger, and build an axis of stability, the prime minister’s adviser said.
“We will rally together countries that may be different from each other, but want to have regional stability, and rely on the rule of law and international law, instead of resorting to violence and blackmail.”
Regarding the Palestinian issue, he noted that it is the duty of friends and allies, Israel and the moderate Arab countries, to contribute as much as possible in order to find a lasting solution, starting of course with the provision of humanitarian aid and the governance of Gaza the next day – and move towards a two-state solution. We still have to think about what Europe will be like after the end of the war in Ukraine, said Mr. Dokos. “Will it be a new Cold War, which is a very likely scenario, or is it possible to find a working relationship with Russia? Of course, as I said, it takes two to tango.”
Referring finally to the upcoming visit of President Erdogan to Greece, he pointed out that “it is important for the two countries to agree to have smooth relations, despite the disagreements”.
“It is important for the European Union and the USA that we do not have to waste diplomatic capital in this region in order to calm the waters of the Aegean. And I want to hope that this is something equally understandable in Ankara” said Mr. Dokos.
Asked how he expects the outcome of the meeting, he pointed out that while maintaining reservations, as we are dealing with a leader who is quite spontaneous, “good planning and good intentions on both sides” will lead to “a successful visit”.
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