New York, September 22, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
In New York took place the first trilateral meeting at the level of Foreign Ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Palestine on Wednesday, September 21.
A Greek proposal takes shape today in New York: within the framework of the 71st General Assembly of the United Nations the first trilateral meeting of Greece – Cyprus – Palestine, with the participation of Foreign Ministers, Nikos Kotzias, Ioannis Kasoulides and Dr. Riad Malki, respectively. This new schema essentially comes to confirm the success of the existing cooperation schemes in Greece and Cyprus with Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon that create new opportunities for cooperation and opportunities in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
The tripartite meeting with the Palestine participation, however serves to confirm something else equally important: The will of Greece and of course Cyprus to maintain the traditionally close relations with Palestine and maintain balances at a political level, so as not to give the impression that the improvement of relations with Israel is done at the expense of historical friendship ties with the Palestinians and Arabs in general.
For Athens this cooperation underlines the role that Greece can play – and plays – as a “bridge builder” and “honest mediator” in the broader region of Southeast Mediterranean and Middle East. Indeed, the new tripartite meeting is taking place only a few days after the successful Rhodes Conference on Security and Stability, which demonstrated the ability of Greece to contribute to the formation of a positive agenda of cooperation in the region.
“Greece knows the Middle East well. It is a country that timely listens to developments and distinguishes the prospects in the region. It has good relations with all countries of the region. They accept our role as a state that promotes, away from publicity, negotiations between parties in conflicts. For example, we can collaborate with Israel while explaining that we support the rights of the Palestinians…”, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said in a recent interview.
This message, the message of Greece as a beacon of stability, a factor the brings balance and acts as a bridge of cooperation in the region, lies at the core of tripartite cooperation schemas and are not directed against anyone, instead they are open to any country wishing to contribute to regional peace, stability, security and development.
To the under formation tripartite schema of cooperation are expected to be included areas of joint activities in numerous areas such as economic cooperation in general, education, tourism, culture, renewable energy sources, etc., along the lines of the existing tripartite structures.
The goal is effective cooperation on issues that can make a tangible difference for the better for the countries involved and their people. This is the key to success of tripartite cooperation. And on this logic is implemented the “multidimensional and active foreign policy” from the beginning of 2015: with an impressive number of carefully thought out initiatives aimed at the substance – and not inexpensive impression seeking – and highlight the balancing and stabilizing role of Greece in the region.
The Joint communiqué issued
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, H.E. Mr. Ioannis Kasoulides, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, H.E. Mr. Nikos Kotzias and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine, H.E. Dr. Riad Malki, held their first trilateral meeting today 21 September 2016 in New York, in the margins of the High Level segment of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly.
The three Ministers held a wide-ranging discussion on issues of mutual interest, including developments in the Middle East and their impact on the wider region, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Cyprus issue, as well as areas for future trilateral cooperation. They underlined the strength of their countries’ historical relations and their determination to enhance these relations within bilateral and multilateral frameworks.
They reaffirmed the commitment of their Governments to mutually acceptable, political and inclusive solutions on the basis of international law and the relevant resolutions of the UN and to joint cooperation for the promotion of peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean region.
They stressed the urgent need for intensification of efforts by moderate actors to tackle the regional challenges, jointly fight against terrorism, extremism and incitement to violence, increase information sharing and promote regional security, long-term stability and prosperity.
They called for just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East based on the relevant United Nations Resolutions, the Madrid principles including land for peace and the Arab Peace Initiative. They expressed their support for a two-State solution on the basis of the 4 June 1967 lines, leading to a sovereign, independent, viable and contiguous State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours. They expressed their serious concern that current trends on the ground threaten to make a two-state solution impossible, reiterated in this regard that all settlementactivities are illegal under international law, and stressed the need for affirmative steps to halt and reverse these trends. Welcoming, in this respect, current efforts, including by France, to revive the peace process, they concurred that a permanentsolution to the Israeli – Palestinian conflict in accordance with international law would greatly boost security and stability across the region and beyond.
They reaffirmed their unwavering support to the ongoing negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus problem that will reunify the island in accordance with international law and the relevant UNSC Resolutions. They highlighted that the solution of the Cyprus problem must address the concerns and aspirations of the Cypriots themselves,without any rights of military intervention, and must respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus.
They stressed that peace agreements in all their aspects, including as regards security arrangements, must be in line with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law.
Convinced of the potential of their trilateral cooperation, Cyprus, Palestine and Greece will continue working together, for the benefit of their peoples and the wider region, to effectively promote their common values and interests, including cooperation in international fora and organizations as well as on projects inter-alia in the fields of tourism, education and training, environment, conservation and management of water resources, energy and agriculture. It was decided that in order to explore further and in more detail the potential of cooperation in these fields, a meeting of the Permanent Secretaries of the Foreign Ministries of the three parties will take place in the near future.