Nicosia, January 28, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Kyriacos Kyriacou
Cyprus, Israel and Greece view the energy sector, and in particular, natural gas and renewable energy, as a solid foundation for cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean basin, says the joint declaration issued after the trilateral meeting in Nicosia.
In the deceleration the three leaders point out that the discovery of important hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean can serve as a catalyst for peace, stability and cooperation in the region.
“We consider that trilateral energy projects, such as the “EuroAsia Interconnector”, are of strategic importance as they will create a mutually beneficial relationship between the energy markets of Israel and Cyprus with those of continental Europe”.
“In addition, we express our strong support to the export of Eastern Mediterranean gas to continental Europe. In this context, we reiterate our readiness to further explore projects such as the “EastMed Pipeline”. We have agreed to work closely together promoting joint projects, which will enhance the security of energy supply”.
The three countries also invite neighbouring countries to explore possible synergies which can be implemented by working collectively on a regional basis.
The three leaders have decided the establishment of a Permanent Ministerial Committee on Energy in order to consider strategic and practical aspects of joint action in the field of energy cooperation.
They also reaffirm their commitment to explore avenues of cooperation in the sphere of renewable energy through joint green-tech programs, in particular in the fields of solar energy, energy efficiency, fuel options for transportation and smart grids.
The three leaders have agreed to strengthen the cooperation in order to promote a trilateral partnership in different fields of common interest and to work together towards promoting peace, stability, security and prosperity in the Mediterranean and the wider region, in light of the underlying challenges and opportunities, and given the fluid and unstable situation in the region.
“We are convinced of the strategic nature and necessity of our trilateral cooperation and will continue working closely in order to realize its full potential, to the benefit of our countries and peoples, and to the wider region”.
In this regard, the three countries endorse the establishment of a Trilateral Steering Committee, which held its first official meeting earlier today, and which is tasked with identifying priorities, as well as overseeing and coordinating the implementation of our joint projects.
The three leaders have agreed that the next trilateral Summit will be held in Israel in the second half of 2016.
“Our partnership is not exclusive in design or nature, and we are ready to welcome other like-minded actors to join our efforts to promote coordination and cooperation, as well as regional peace and stability”, says also the declaration.
The three countries agree to work closely together with a view to strengthening cooperation on common projects, involving both public and private actors. In particular, they are examining practical means of cooperating and implementing joint projects and synergies in the fields of energy, tourism, research and technology, environment, water management, combating terrorism, and migration.
Furthermore, they are exploring potential collaboration in a wide array of other fields, including agriculture, forestation, joint fire-fighting efforts, environmental protection including marine pollution, joint emergency response to natural disasters, exchange of information in emergency situations, joint search and rescue exercises, health, management of epidemics, joint scientific projects, development of renewable energy technologies, education, communications and trilateral roaming agreements, and commercial shipping.
The three countries acknowledge the importance of tourism and the vast potential for a comprehensive collaboration towards encouraging the influx of tourists to the region by offering joint packages, including cruises and religious, medical and other thematic tourism. They agree to explore ways of sharing information and know-how in order to support local small tourism businesses, joint initiatives and more. The three competent Ministers agree to meet and examine the various facets.
They also “remain steadfastly committed to working together towards the enhancement of the bilateral relations between the European Union and Israel in areas of mutual interest and concern”.
They also stress the importance of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation for the countries of the region.
The three countries express their full and unwavering support to the ongoing negotiation process, under the United Nations Good Office Mission, for a just, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem, based on international law and the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.
“Such a solution, which will reunify the island, based on the respect of democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots, would not only benefit the people of Cyprus in its entirety, but also significantly contribute to the peace and stability of the region, through Cyprus’ independent foreign policy”.
The Governments also express their hope that the resumption of negotiations of the MEPP will conclude in a just and lasting solution.
Referring to the dangers posed by terrorism, both regionally and globally, the three leaders have agreed to continue joining forces with the international community to tackle this challenge.
“In light of the above, we have agreed to enhance our cooperation in this sphere by initiating trilateral dialogue between our competent Authorities. Efforts to curb the flow of foreign fighters, restrict financial and military support to terrorist groups, and counter extremist propaganda should intensify. Incitement to violence should be condemned and stopped”.
On the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27th January, the leaders paid homage to those perished during the Holocaust and condemned without reserve all manifestations of religious intolerance, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, wherever they occur.
They underlined their willingness to join efforts for the protection of antiquities and for the preservation and development of historical and archaeological sites.
The leaders also stress that ongoing turmoil in our neighbourhood has triggered unprecedented migratory flows that pose a challenge which can be met only by multilateral action that addresses the conditions that create these migratory flows, through comprehensive and holistic planning and strategies.
“It should address ways to ending hostilities, eradicating poverty and improving livelihoods through development. We are also committed to combating smuggling of people and reiterate our readiness to contribute to efforts designed to address the humanitarian aspects of the unfolding refugee crisis, in close cooperation with all concerned countries and actors”.