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IBNA/Interview: Protection of Med maritime environment high on the agenda, says Cyprus Natural Resources Minister

IBNA/Interview: Protection of Med maritime environment high on the agenda, says Cyprus Natural Resources Minister
On the sidelines of the Greece, Cyprus and Israel tripartite meeting today, Nicos Kouyialis Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Administration for the Republic of Cyprus, in an interview to IBNA, stated that "efforts on the protection of the maritime environment of the Mediterranean, the effect of climate change and the management of water resources were the main focus of today's meeting". The Cypriot Minister also spoke about the new alliances being formed in the Mediterranean region.

Read the full interview below:

Minister, what was the most important conclusion of the tripartite meeting today between Greece, Cyprus and Israel?

We focused our efforts on the protection of the maritime environment of the Mediterranean, the effect of climate change and the management of water resources. I believe that the most significant development of the meeting today is the agreement to act together to protect the Mediterranean Sea from possible hydrocarbon accidents. You understand that the economies of all three countries are supported by the healthy marine environment, especially the economy of Cyprus whose tourism is its largest pillar. I therefore believe this is a very good development. Cyprus could not have managed alone – the same for other countries too – as it doesn’t have the necessary equipment, human resources and means. I believe it is a very beneficial cooperation for all three countries. At this time, the UN is helping us design the action plan that will be ready in October and in November a new trilateral ministerial meeting will be held along with a joint exercise in the Israel - Cyprus maritime area.

Is this preparation for drilling?

It is not only preparation for drilling. It is also preparation for accidents that might occur, such as pollution from oil spills, vessels, land facilities and more.

This is the third trilateral meeting between Cyprus, Greece and Israel. What developments have been recorded?

There has been progress on all issues, in energy, the environment, and other issues in other areas. Νew sectors of cooperation are always being added to this trilateral alliance. I believe that there are now tangible results and I am sure that if we continue like this, the agreement will be very beneficial for all three countries.

Can you be more specific about these tangible results?

It is still early to say. We will wait a little more. We are currently working on all levels;on a political level, a technical level and at the level of heads of State – the highest of all. I think we are doing very well. I believe this third top-level meeting proves the importance of this cooperation.

Besides Israel, there is also a trilateral cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt. Israel and Egypt are two entirely different countries in many ways. What is your view on this?

They are two opposites but the problems they face are common. The people of the Mediterranean face the same challenges and risks in this region. I believe both Greece and Cyprus are pillars of political stability and we are utilising our position in the EU and our geographic and geo-strategic position in the best possible way. It is no coincidence that all the countries in the region want to sign cooperation agreements with Cyprus and Greece.

On the new alliances being formed, we have Lebanon now with which there will soon be a tripartite meeting at the highest level. Are there other cooperation agreements in the works?

The cooperation with Egypt is the most advanced. Many meetings have been held on a political as well as a technical level. We now begin this cooperation with Lebanon. Cyprus is open to any cooperation that will promote security and political stability in the region.

Are you concerned about the crisis that broke out in the Gulf countries and the embargo on Qatar?

You understand that we are concerned about every crisis that breaks out in the region, especially in the Gulf. Nobody can take into account the possible consequences. Any problem caused in this region affects all nations in the region. I hope the crisis will calm down and end smoothly because we don’t want more sources of political instability in the region./IBNA

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