We, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, Nicos Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus and Abdel Fattah El – Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, met in Athens, Greece, on the 19th of October 2021, in the framework of the 9th Trilateral Cooperation and Coordination Summit among our three countries.
We reviewed the work in the various areas of our cooperation and noted that significant progress has been achieved.
Encouraged by the positive results thus far and deeply convinced of the strategic importance of the trilateral cooperation between our respective countries, we expressed our firm determination to continue working closely on issues of mutual interest, enhancing peace, security and stability in our region. In this context, we reiterated our support for the establishment of the Permanent Secretariat for the trilateral mechanism between Cyprus, Egypt and Greece, based in Nicosia, in a way that maintains the uniqueness of the relations between the three countries.
We welcomed the signing of the agreement for the establishment of a trilateral electricity interconnector between the grids of Egypt, Cyprus and Greece. This project strengthens our economic cooperation and enhances the security of energy supply, not only of the countries involved, but also of Europe, as it will create a highway for the transmission of significant amounts of electricity to and from the Eastern Mediterranean. The Electricity Interconnector project, which connects the electricity grids of our countries, constitutes an important component of the strategy to accelerate the development of the Eastern Mediterranean Energy Corridor, providing an alternative source of energy supply from the region to the European Continent and vice versa.
We expressed our desire to continue strengthening our cooperation, through a series of agreements, on the exploration and transportation of natural gas; we remain convinced that the discovery of hydrocarbon reserves can serve as a catalyst for regional stability and prosperity. In this regard, we once again welcomed the adoption of the statute of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF). The establishment of EMGF is based on the fundamental principle of respect of the Members’ rights over their natural resources, in accordance with international law; EMGF will support the Members’ efforts in unlocking the full gas resource potential in the region and monetizing their reserves in accordance with international maritime law and in particular UNCLOS. We reiterated that the EMGF as a regional organisation based in Cairo is open to all countries that share the same values and objectives of the EMGF and willingness to cooperate for the security of the whole region and the welfare of its peoples.
We underlined the importance of the respect of the sovereignty and sovereign rights of all states in their maritime zones in accordance with international law, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In this context, we condemned the illegal drilling and seismic operations by Turkish vessels in Cyprus EEZ/continental shelf, in maritime areas already delimited in accordance with international law. We also reiterated our condemnation of the continuous violations of Greek national airspace and territorial waters in the Aegean Sea and all other illegal activities in areas falling within Greece’s continental shelf, in contravention of international law. Hence, we called on Turkey to abstain, in a consistent and sincere manner, from provocations and unilateral actions in breach of international law, including from harassment of survey vessels duly licensed by Greece or Cyprus, thus helping to create conditions conducive to dialogue. We stressed that productive and result-oriented dialogue cannot be conducted in an aggressive environment or under the threat of the use of force.
We discussed the Cyprus issue and we reaffirmed our strong support to a just, comprehensive and viable settlement in line with the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions that call for a bizonal, bicommunal federation with a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship as well as in accordance with the EU acquis, values and principles. Regarding Varosha, we recalled the Security Council Presidential Statement of 23 July 2021, which reaffirmed the status of Varosha as set out in previous United Nations Security Council Resolutions, including Resolutions 550 (1984) and 789 (1992), condemned the announcement in Cyprus by Turkish and Turkish Cypriot leaders on 20 July 2021 on the further reopening of a part of the fenced-off area of Varosha, called for the immediate reversal of this course of action and the reversal of all steps taken on Varosha since October 2020 and stressed the importance of full respect and implementation of its Resolutions, including the transfer of Varosha to UN administration. We underlined the need to resume negotiations from where they were left off and expressed our support for the appointment of a Special Adviser of the United Nations Secretary General with the mandate to engage with all involved, in order to resume the negotiating process. We also stressed that an agreed, comprehensive and viable Cyprus settlement will not only benefit the people of Cyprus, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, but will also significantly contribute to peace and stability in the broader region.
Referring to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), we recognized Egypt’s unique status as one of the driest countries in the world, that is almost exclusive dependence on the River Nile. Accordingly, we recognized the existential threat that the GERD could constitute to Egypt if filled and operated unilaterally and we encourage Ethiopia to negotiate in good faith to conclude in a timely manner a legally binding agreement on the rules and guidelines of the filling and operation of the GERD, in accordance with the Presidential Statement of the UN Security Council of September 15, 2021, and the 2015 Agreement on Declaration of principles. We reiterated that previous agreements and the applicable principles of international law should be upheld, particularly the principles of prior notification and consultation, in order to ascertain that projects planned on international watercourses are undertaken in a reasonable and equitable manner, that does not cause significant harm. These principles should remain the foundation for reaching a fair and balanced agreement that respects the interests of the three countries.
We exchanged views on the political developments in our region and beyond, on issues that affect us directly:
On recent developments in the Middle East, we reiterated that the only sustainable solution to the Syrian crisis is a political one. In this respect, we reaffirmed our call for a nationwide ceasefire to be applied in Syria, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015). We expressed our full support to the efforts of the UNSG Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Pedersen, and hope that the Constitutional Committee will soon produce concrete results.
We also reiterated our support for a comprehensive, just and lasting negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions, agreed parameters and international law. We continue to support the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state, with secure and recognized borders, on the pre-1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, while recognizing the right of Israel to exist in peace and security. We believe that both sides and the International Community should work towards reviving the Peace Process and we stand ready to support all efforts to re-initiate meaningful and result-oriented peace talks.
On Libya, while acknowledging the progress achieved in the political process so far, we reiterated the importance of maintaining the timetable agreed in the Road Map for the holding of free and fair elections on 24th December 2021 without foreign interference. Respect of the ceasefire and the arms embargo, as well as the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries is indispensable for peace and stability in the country. We commended the pivotal role of the 5+5 Joint Military Committee, through which many tangible positive steps have been taken, notably the opening of the Coastal Road and the exchange of detainees on both sides. Overall, we acknowledged that many challenges remain and need to be dealt with, if the process is to lead to the unification of the country and its institutions.
Furthermore, we recalled that the Memorandum of Understanding on the Delimitation of the Maritime Jurisdiction Areas in the Mediterranean and the Memorandum of Understanding on Security and Military Cooperation signed in November 2019 between Turkey and Mr. Fayez El Saraj, are respectively in contravention of international law and the UN arms embargo in Libya and that both undermine regional stability; moreover, the Memorandum of Understanding on the delimitation of maritime jurisdictions in the Mediterranean Sea infringes upon the sovereign rights of third States, does not comply with the Law of the Sea and cannot produce any legal consequences.
On Afghanistan, we expressed our deep concern for the situation in the country and the risks it poses both for itself and the wider region. Greece, Cyprus and Egypt will remain in coordination and will explore ways to tackle together, as well as with other partners, the pressing challenges faced by the international community, in particular to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan, the fight against terrorism, the migration/refugee crisis and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to people in need. In this context, Greece and Cyprus stressed that the evacuation of Afghans at risk due to political persecution remains a priority for the EU and its member States.
Common challenges and developments in the Mediterranean and the wider region require a strategic partnership between Egypt and the EU. We are committed to furthering EU-Egypt cooperation in key policy areas based on the Joint Communication and the Council Conclusions on a renewed Partnership with the Southern Neighborhood – A new agenda for the Mediterranean. The new Partnership Priorities should contribute to fulfilling the aspirations of the peoples of both sides of the Mediterranean. It should ensure inclusive and sustainable development, social justice, decent job opportunities, and economic prosperity and substantially improved living conditions, thus cementing the stability and prosperity of Egypt, the EU and our common neighborhood. In this spirit, convening the EU-Egypt Association Council by the end of this year would be a strong and tangible signal of the increased EU engagement and partnership with Egypt.
On human rights issues, we exchanged views on different developments related to the promotion and protection of human rights, including fundamental freedoms. We welcomed the launch of the first National Strategy of human rights in Egypt, which is considered a significant step in this regard. Greece, Cyprus and Egypt reiterated their conviction that these issues should be dealt with an objective, impartial and non-selective manner, in accordance with relevant international law and norms.
Greece, Cyprus and Egypt are situated at the cross-roads of three continents and as such are seriously affected by irregular migration flows. We therefore underlined the need for concerted action in this area, in accordance with international law and the relevant humanitarian provisions, noting in particular that smuggling and trafficking networks had proven their resilience in finding alternative routes. We also stressed that the instrumentalization of migration for geopolitical purposes is inhumane and violates human rights. While determined to fight irregular migration, we recognized the value of establishing regular pathways of migration.
We agreed that climate change should be a core component of our cooperation agenda and affirmed that we remain strongly committed to the implementation of the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development. We recognized that the Mediterranean has one of the richest marine and coastal ecosystems in the world, but also one of the most vulnerable. Its rapid degradation requires swift, common and concrete responses, as well as further regional cooperation, involving all relevant actors, in the protection of this shared environment. We welcomed Egypt’s successful hosting of the 2nd Ministerial UFM meeting on environment on October 4th, 2021 and we look forward to the 27th UN climate change conference (COP27) to be held in Egypt next year. In the same context, we also expressed support for the Initiative of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus for coordinating climate change actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. Furthermore, we expressed support for the Initiative of Greece for the Protection of Cultural Monuments from the effects of Climate Change.
Referring to the repercussions of the pandemic, we agreed on the need to ensure continued concerted action in combating COVID-19, with a view to shielding our peoples. We acknowledged that such challenges know no national borders, therefore international cooperation remains essential, through the strengthening and reform of the WHO, and the reinforcement of the International Health Regulations (IHR).
Recognizing the strong bonds of friendship among our peoples and the growing cooperation of the Greek, the Cypriot and the Egyptian communities around the world, we welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation in relation to Diaspora Affairs aiming at promoting our common values and collective interests abroad.
Looking forward to further enhancing our trilateral cooperation and aspiring to tangible results in all areas of mutual interest and understanding, we agreed that the next trilateral Summit shall take place in Egypt, in the second half of 2022./ibna