Learning from Nordic cooperation
E DII TO RII A L
With the occasional parasites causing trouble in the eastern Mediterranean, it was high time the three countries with a vested interest in peace in these waters got together.
The announcement that the Cyprus, Greek and Egyptian governments will cooperate closely to safeguard their maritime borders and, subsequently, their offshore oil and gas assets, is a step long overdue.
This new level of agreement, an alliance even, that begins with the enhanced search-end-rescue activities by joint Greek and Cypriot services announced in Athens on Monday, is expected to build up to a fully fledged coordination between civilian and armed units of Cyprus, Greece and Egypt, when the leaders of the three states meet some time soon.
Already, the fact that President Anastasiades was the sole EU head of state at Ahmad Al Sisi’s inauguration shows Cairo’s clear intentions of cooperation at all levels, as the discussion for business agreements in the energy sector and investments in infrastructure projects has also been on the agenda of recent high-level meetings.
Listening to former Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Markoulli during a luncheon speech last week, it is clear that nation states in this part of the world (at least the stable and democratic ones) ought to cooperate more closely in all matters, not just issues of immediate concern.
Taking the example of the ‘Nordic cooperation’, perhaps the three countries ought to set up their own relevant ‘councils of ministers’ to deal with matters of common interest, including crisis prevention.
It will then only be a matter of time that the Israeli counterparts will, too, be invited to join this triad, or at least cooperate closely, as all four nations share common interests in almost all matters. Who knows? Perhaps Lebanon could be next in line to join.
Such a long-term ‘alliance’, replacing the one-time Non-Allied Movement that flourished primarily on ideology and keeping a balance between the West and the Soviets, would also send strong signals to key international powers that the days of rogue states and single-nation bandits are over. Furthermore, it could also serve as the launchpad for further international initiatives, such as the U.S.’s use of (its own) bases in Turkey for missions against the present threat from the Islamic State.
Finally, it would also prove that regional cooperation is feasible, especially in this corner of the EU that could prove crucial for the future energy needs of the 28-nation club. This was a concept that was never grasped by outgoing High Commissioner for Foreign Policy, Katherine Ahston, who never realised the important role some nations play in this part of the world.