Summit not aimed at Turkey, Israel visit next
Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said that the trilateral summit and declaration of cooperation by the leaders of Cyprus, Egypt and Greece in Cairo on Saturday is not aimed against Turkey, but rather to establish political and economic stability in the eastern Mediterranean.
The head of the island’s diplomatic service, who has been to-ing and fro-ing from European to Middle East capitals in recent months, said that the strategic cooperation in the making between the three countries would welcome similar arrangements with other countries in the area as well, hinting at Israel, Jordan and Lebanon.
Kasoulides said that Turkey’s provocations in Cyprus offshore waters was the reason why it would be left out of such a regional grouping, adding that the violation of the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by the seismic survey vessel Barbaros was also the reason why UN-sponsored Cyprus peace talks had broken off.
The Cairo declaration, that touched upon a host of subjects of mutual interest among the three nations, is also expected to speed up the final delineation of the common EEZs between the three countries, in a way setting out markers for energy and other activities in the eastern Mediterranean.
Cyprus and Egypt have ratified their common maritime boundaries and are proceeding to explore other areas of mutual interest, such as a potential undersea pipeline that would transport future Cyprus natural gas exports to LNG plants in energy-deficit Egypt.
Cyprus and Israel have also agreed on their common EEZs, while Lebanon has yet to ratify a parallel agreement with Cyprus, due to the ongoing conflict in neighbouring Syria and the spillover effects that are hampering all political progress in Beirut.
Concluding the EEZ between Greece and Cyprus on the one hand, and Greece and Egypt on the other, is seen as excluding Turkey from regional affairs and resources, made worse by Ankara’s stand-off with onetime ally Israel and the present government’s continued criticism of Israel’s policies regarding the Palestinians.
Turkey, that continues to violate all the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus since 1974, with the blessing of its NATO allies, has even resorted to calling for the respect of the sovereign rights of Ankara and the breakaway Turkish Cypriot puppet regime in the north of the island, through whom it has invited Turkish oil and gas companies to consider exploration and drilling in other parts of Cyprus waters.
The commander of the Turkey navy was quoted as saying on the sidelines of the NATO exercise Blue Whale that he has orders from the Prime Minister to deploy rules of engagement if his vessels come across Israeli or Greek navy ships in the eastern Mediterranean.
FOREIGN MINISTERS TO MEET
Cyprus Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Sunday after the first annual memorial service for the late President Glafcos Clerides, that the leaders of the three states have appointed their Ministers of Foreign Affairs in charge for the implementation of the joint declaration, which clearly explains the framework within which this cooperation will take place. He added that the first step will be the joint meeting of the Ministers of Energy of the three countries on 24 November.
As regards to the bilateral dimension of the relations with Egypt, President Nicos Anastasiades held “a very good and productive meeting with President (Abdel Fattah Al) Sisi” and the Minister of Energy of Egypt will visit Cyprus on November 23 for discussions with his Cypriot counterpart.
The spokesman said that President Sisi has accepted an invitation to visit Cyprus in the near future, while adding that the preparation for a new trilateral summit between Cyprus, Greece and Israel is under way. He pointed out that “right now, what we have before us is the visit by the President of the Republic to Jerusalem on 2 December.”
AL SISI: HISTORIC BONDS
Speaking at the Cairo press conference on Saturday, President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi stated that the summit conference foresaw the strengthening of the historical and bonds among the three countries.
He added that “Egypt hosted a summit meeting of the three countries, inaugurating a new era of tripartite cooperation, which started a year ago, strengthening this constructive cooperation with two of the countries that truly supported Egypt’s political course for the restoration of democracy and they fully understand the extraordinary events that are taking place in the country.”
He also pointed out the cooperation of the three countries in the investment and trade sectors and added that their views coincide completely.
“We also exchanged views about the situation and the crises in the region of the Middle East, in particular about the Palestinian issue and the efforts for peace, as well as the developments in Syria and Iraq, about the effort to combat terrorism and ways to strengthen these efforts, and about the situation in Libya. Also examined were the efforts by Greece and Cyprus to enhance and support the contacts between Egypt and the EU” as well as the tripartite cooperation in other international for a,” President Sisi added.
ANASTASIADES: FOUR PILLARS
On his part, President Anastasiades said that the tripartite cooperation was based on four basic pillars: first, political cooperation and diplomatic coordination both at a regional as well as an international level; second, the substantive and practical strengthening of projects in sectors such as that of energy, the economy, commerce, tourism, culture and shipping; third, the creation of a joint front to address the dangers from terrorism, xenophobia and sectarianism; and, fourth, for the tripartite cooperation to become a model of constructive and beneficial regional cooperation in a common volatile region.
“Consequently, we invite the states of the region that share our vision to participate in joint efforts,” the Cypriot leader said, adding that the ‘Cairo Declaration’ also expressed the support for President Sisi’s efforts and that of the Egyptian people for the implementation of the Road Map and for the effort for economic and political development, including the coming parliamentary elections that will mark the culmination of the process for the democratisation of the country.”
“Moreover, the recent events in our region underline the need for stability in Egypt, because it is a country with great influence in the Arab world that can impact on the efforts to address the regional challenges, and terrorism in particular, wherever this is manifested, whether in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon and elsewhere,” Anastasiades said.
SAMARAS: DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of Greece congratulated President Sisi on his initiative for the tripartite meeting. “It is a meeting that we owed to history,” he added.
“Greece and Cyprus are members of the EU; Egypt is a country with the largest influence in the Arab world. That is why the exchange of views on the issues of Syria, Libya, Iraq and the sorely tried problem of Palestine were very productive and useful.”
He pointed out that “Greece and Cyprus attach great importance to the protection of the Christian populations that lately face the danger of been expelled from their ancestral homes.”
“We also gave special weight to the issues of energy security and the cooperation on the hydrocarbon issues. It is a sector on which we will cooperate closely for the benefit of our people and for the benefit of the energy supplies of the entire EU,” Samaras said, adding that “in the relationship among the three of us,
Greece and Cyprus will support Egypt as her ambassadors in the EU. Because the guiding principle for the problems in the region must be the stability and security and the best ambassador of stability and security in the region is Egypt.”
“The EU must in fact support Egypt in her current great effort and to support her both financially and morally. Greece and Cyprus will help in every way in this direction and we consider as critical our mediation and our role in this new relationship,” the Greek PM concluded.