America’s very positive relationship with Cyprus, Greece and Israel as manifested in our membership in the Eastern Mediterranean Partnership (EMP) will soon to be institutionalized within the American government. This is being propelled forward for our EMP countries through bold and historic language recently adopted by the full Appropriations Committee of the US House of Representatives.
The language directs the US Secretary of State to report to the Appropriations Committees in no later than 45 days regarding findings on how resources, programs and mechanisms can support further cooperation among the EMP members. The language further defines the Committee’s objective as an “annual joint dialogue with officials, including career government personnel, of the Departments of State, Defense and Energy and their counterparts in the Governments of Greece, Cyprus and Israel”. The language also boldly addresses the need to “defend against external malign influences in the region”. This unique initiative befits the EMP’s also unique Western World status in this volatile region of the world.
The fact that the powerful Chairwoman of both the House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and the full Appropriations Committee, Nita Lowey, was responsible for adding this language, supported by the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, assures its adoption on the House floor. As well, there are quite good indications that a majority of the Senate Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and possibly even the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member will agree with the language. But, regardless, as the House Chairperson’s language, it is extraordinarily likely that this program will survive a House-Senate Conference Committee and be included in any continuing resolution and will be implemented.
There is a little-known great advantage to establishing this initiative through an Appropriations bill. The Appropriation process is unlike the authorization, or law-making, process where the Congress passes a law and then watches the Executive Branch write regulations for it and implement it, frequently in unintended ways. On the other hand, the Appropriations Committee staff stays in constant engagement with the Executive department carrying out their wishes. They even have the ability to, at any time, assure adequate funding for their program by forcing funds into that program through a process known as “reprogramming.” The Department is understandably super-responsive to Nita Lowey, the person who determines how much funding will be given to each of their programs.
Our bureaucrats from the State, Defense and Energy Departments who will spend significant time every year with all their counterparts from the EMP countries will enable important progress. Cyprus and Greece will cease being seen in isolation and will be viewed as part of America and Israel’s goals. Further, our officials at all levels will learn the assets and potential assets these countries possess that can benefit America. And finally, our people’s philotimo will cause our American bureaucrats to develop a personal fondness for their EMP counterparts.
This engagement between the officials of EMP countries and our governmental establishment will also expand their insight into the region and therefore improve the prospects of enacting into law the valuable provisions of the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy legislation introduced in the US Senate and House. The Ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, and Republican Committee Member Marco Rubio introduced the legislation in the Senate. In the House it was introduced by the Chairman of the Middle East Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ted Deutch, and Congressmen Gus Bilirakis, who co-chairs with Deutch the Hellenic-Israeli Alliance and Congressman David Cicilline, who serves on the European Subcommittee with Deutch.
Each year in Washington, Turkey spends many millions of dollars in direct lobbying of US Senators, Members of the House and Administration officials. As well, millions of additional dollars are spent on Washington think tanks and academic institutions that temporarily house top American foreign policy officials whose party is not at the moment in control of the Executive branch. Their one sided presentation of America’s interests in the Eastern Mediterranean resulting from these many millions of dollars skew the perception of our officials and perpetuate the decades-old tilt-toward-Turkey.
This historic step forward by House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey will give our Western World and centuries old allies in the Eastern Mediterranean a more level playing field in Washington. And it will also better enable America’s foreign policy officials to formulate strategies in the Eastern Mediterranean that more purely serve America’s crucial security interests.
The language adopted by the House Appropriations Committee
“Support for eastern Mediterranean partners.–The Committee appreciates the Secretary of State’s presence at the sixth trilateral summit between Cyprus, Greece, and Israel, and supports the joint declaration made to increase regional cooperation, support energy independence, and to defend against external malign influences in the region. The Committee directs the Secretary of State to report to the Committees on Appropriations not later than 45 days after the enactment of this Act on available Department of State programs and mechanisms to support further cooperation between the United States and partners in the eastern Mediterranean, and encourages the Secretary of State to provide resources to support annual joint dialogues with officials, including career government personnel, of the Departments of State, Defense and Energy and their counterparts in the Governments of Greece, Cyprus, and Israel.”