Greece, Egypt and Cyprus establish a standing Joint Committee of Cooperation 

Greece, Egypt and Cyprus establish a standing Joint Committee of Cooperation 

Nicosia, December 9, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Kyriacos Kyriacou

Greece, Egypt and Cyprus announced they will step up their trilateral cooperation by establishing a standing Joint Committee of Cooperation.

“We remain convinced of the strategic nature of this trilateral cooperation and we will continue to work closely towards the fullest exploitation of its potential, to the benefit of our peoples and the wider region,” a declaration issued following a tripartite summit between Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, held in Athens, writes.

“In this regard, we have decided to establish a standing Joint Committee of Cooperation which will develop, formulate and promote practical project of trilateral interest,” the declaration adds.

The third Trilateral Summit underlined “our well-established and continuous tripartite partnership aiming at promoting peace, stability, security and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean in various fields (political, economic, trade, culture, tourism).

“We remain committed to effectively promoting our common values and interests and continuing to work towards enhancing our tripartite consultation at all levels,” the declaration notes adding “this framework serves as a model for regional dialogue, including through close coordination and cooperation in the framework of multilateral fora, as well as through efforts to further promote relations between the EU and the Arab world.”

The declaration emphasize that the the discovery of important hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean, including the recent discovery of the “Zohr” gas field in Egypt’s Exclusive Economic Zone, “can serve as a catalyst for peace and stability in the region,” pointing out that this objective would be better served through the adherence by the countries of the region to well established principles of international law.

The three countries also declared they agreed to accelerate negotiations on the outstanding issues related to the delimitation of our three counties’ adjacent maritime zones, recognizing the universal character of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Recognizing that maritime industry and tourism are vital components of the economy of our countries, the three countries also agreed to continue working closely together with a view to strengthening our cooperation on common projects, with the involvement of both state and private actors, including developing joint tourism packages and cruises and enhancing the maritime connection between the three countries for the transfer of both cargo and passengers.

On the Cyprus problem, the three countries expressed their “full and unwavering support to the ongoing negotiation process, under the United Nations Good Office Mission, for a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem based on international law, and the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions.”

“Such a settlement, which will reunify the island, based on the respect of democratic principles and the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots, would not only benefit the people of Cyprus as a whole, but would also significantly contribute to the stability and peace in the region, the declaration notes.

The three countries also acknowledge the mutually beneficial nature of the European Union –Egypt relationship. We agree on the need for the European Union to support Egypt politically and economically, including in its fight against terrorism, acknowledging its pivotal role for the security and stability in the East Mediterranean region.

Furthermore, in view of the recent terrorist attacks in the Middle East, Europe and Africa, the three countries reiterated “once more our full support to the comprehensive, collective and focused action of the international community towards fighting international terrorism. We strongly condemn all terrorist actions and call upon all states to actively and effectively confront this threat and to step up cooperation on security matters with a view to defeating these groups and exposing their major supporters.”

“International terrorism constitutes,” the declaration adds “a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security. In this context we reaffirm our commitment to the collective international effort of the Global Coalition to combat ISIS/Da’esh as well as other terrorist groups in accordance with the provisions of international law, and we underline the need to enhance efforts to end the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and to counter ISIS/Da’ esh propaganda as well as to disrupt the provision of financial and military support to terrorist groups.”

Calling for “a holistic and comprehensive approach” to tackle the roots of the increased migratory flows, especially the resolution of conflicts, eradicating poverty and promoting socio-economic development, the thee countries affirm “our commitment to exert every effort to prevent, as a matter of priority, any further loss of life at sea, in cooperation with the countries of origin and transit, and to combat the activities of smugglers,” and their readiness to contribute towards addressing the humanitarian aspects of the ongoing refugee crisis, in cooperation with all countries concerned.

They emphasize moreover that “the mobilization of the EU and all of its Member States is of primary importance since the refugee crisis represents a major challenge that we can overcome only if we work closely together and remain united in our efforts with solidarity and with the adoption of a genuine approach of partnership, shared responsibility and burden.”

The Trilateral Summit also declared its “strong support to the unity and territorial integrity of Syria and we are of the opinion that the participants to the Vienna process should abstain from acts that in essence undermine the spirit of what was agreed there.”

The three countries also express their “serious concern about the security situation in Libya which affects security and stability in neighboring countries,” noting they support the efforts of the UNSG Special Representative Martin Kobler and we call upon all parties to work constructively towards a swift formation of a Government of National Accord.

Pointing out that “the situation in Yemen is still posing a threat to the stability of the wider Middle East,” the three countries reiterate their “support for the legitimate government of Yemen and for the preservation of its unity and territorial integrity.”

“We stress the need to address with determination the threat of extremist and terrorist groups present in Yemen. We are worried about the humanitarian crisis and we call for unrestricted access to humanitarian aid for the civilian population,” the declaration stresses.

On Iraq the three countries reaffirmed their support to the government of Iraq in its efforts to achieve stability peace and political cohesion as well as its fight against terrorism, pointing out that the territorial integrity, sovereignty and unity of Iraq should be respected.

They also look forward to the implementation of the agreement reached by the E3/EU+3 and Iran in Vienna on the latter’s nuclear program a significant step towards strengthening the international and regional security.

Furthermore, the declaration reiterate the three countries` “commitment to the two State solution which will guarantee for the Palestinian People a viable, sovereign, independent and contiguous State, on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, living in peace and security with all its neighbours,” expressing “our firm belief that the historic status quo of all holy sites, in East Jerusalem, must be fully respected.”

Expressing deep concern over the current escalation of violence, the three countries note that “violence can be addressed through restarting, as soon as possible, a credible political process that provides a clear political horizon for reaching a comprehensive settlement,” and add that “to that respect, the role of Egypt remains crucial.”

On Lebanon, the three countries express strong support to the efforts of Prime Minister Salam to keep the government stable and functioning, and stand firm by Lebanon in its fight against terrorism and its efforts to maintain security in the country.