The leaders of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt reaffirmed the great importance of trilateral cooperation

The leaders of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt reaffirmed the great importance of trilateral cooperation

The President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades, the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and the Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis today referred to the great importance of the trilateral cooperation between Cyprus, Greece and Egypt for the benefit of the peoples of the three countries and the region in general. They also noted their commitment to a solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of international law and UN Security Council resolutions.

In their statements to the media after the 9th Cyprus-Greece-Egypt Trilateral Summit in Athens and the signing of trilateral Memoranda of Understanding in the fields of electrical interconnection and Diaspora, signed on the Cypriot side by the Minister of Energy Natasha Pilidou and the Commissioner for the Presidency Fotis Fotiou, respectively, the three leaders stressed the great importance they attach to trilateral cooperation for the benefit of the peoples of their countries and the region at large.

In his remarks, the President of the Republic said, among other things, that “I want to stress how important this trilateral cooperation, this identity of views – which leads our countries to be pillars of stability, peace in the region and through cooperation, a creative cooperation for our peoples but also extending it to the EU – is for the common issues that should concern everyone. Whether they concern energy or especially those concerning the fight against terrorism, stability and peace.

I had the opportunity, in the context of all the discussions, to refer to the latest developments in the Cyprus problem, to refer to the unfortunately observed acute intransigence on the part of the Turkish side and Turkish Cypriots.

The violations observed in the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus in violation of the international law of the sea, the violations observed on the ground with the violation of the status of the enclosed city of Famagusta, the recent leasing of land not belonging to Turkish Cypriots, but occupied Greek Cypriot land given on a long-term lease to Turkey for easily understandable objectives that Turkey is pursuing, namely the creation of a military air base for drones and the construction of a military port in the Bogazi area. Worst of all, apart from the worsening provocativeness, which is not only being addressed in the case of Cyprus, but also extends to the Aegean, Libya, Syria, the sovereignty of Iraq, what concerns Armenia, there is a more general revisionist policy that wants the ‘blue homeland’, as Mr Erdogan claims, to control not only the region, but also beyond it.

What is unacceptable is the new position of the Turkish side, the Turkish Cypriot community, for two independent states.

I have briefed the President of Egypt and the Prime Minister of Greece on the meeting in New York, during which the UN Secretary General tried to create conditions that would allow for the promotion of common ground or agreement on what the solution to the Cyprus problem should be, as outlined in the UN and Security Council resolutions. Contrary to this was the repetition of the position (by the Turkish Cypriot side) that there will be no resumption of dialogue unless the sovereign equality of the illegal entity with the legitimate status of the Republic of Cyprus, which is internationally recognised and a member of the UN, is recognised beforehand.

The Secretary-General’s proposal was to appoint a special envoy who would also be accountable to the Security Council and who would cultivate the prospects of a favourable climate for the resumption of talks. Despite the agreement that was reached, unfortunately, due to opposition, as observed since July 2017 in Crans-Montana, the SG’s intention was not achieved, and as a result we are today in a deadlock. What I reiterated to both the Prime Minister and the President of Egypt is our will and determination to engage in a creative dialogue, with the ultimate goal not to deviate from international law, but to implement the UN resolutions, to implement all those that will create the prospects and conditions for a European state, such as the Republic of Cyprus, thus protecting the human rights of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

The basis for a solution is given and is determined by the UN resolutions, by the High Level Agreements and by the European acquis.

Therefore, what I want to say is that our determination, but also the efforts that we are making together with the Prime Minister in the EU, but also with our friend the President in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference is to see how we are being activated diplomatically – because dialogue is the only way to achieve a peaceful solution to the various issues – and to see how Turkey finally realises that it will benefit much more if it contributes to helping to find a solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of principles and not on the basis of an expansionist policy, a revisionist policy which, unfortunately, has been characterising it recently and categorising it as a ‘troublemaker’ or expansionist country. The countries of the Eastern Mediterranean cannot cooperate closely with each other, be pillars of stability and peace, and the only one that disturbs international law be, for reasons purely its own, Turkey.

Finally, President Anastasiades said that “this trilateral cooperation and the others we have developed with neighbouring states, with the linking of European states and our own initiatives, Greece and Cyprus, do not exclude anyone. They aim at stability and peace. We do not exclude anyone. And Turkey is welcome, as long as it respects international law, the sovereignty of its neighbours and, in general, respects international law.”

For his part, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that during the Summit, among other things, regional developments were discussed “where our positions are identical in condemning Turkey’s provocative practice and aggressive rhetoric, because the harassment of the Nautical GEO research vessel, as well as the threats of new illegal drilling within the Cypriot EEZ, unfortunately leave no room for misinterpretation of Turkey’s intentions. Unfortunately, the leadership of Ankara seems not to understand the messages of the times”.

He added that Turkey’s ambitions against its neighbours in the Eastern Mediterranean obviously pose a threat to peace in the wider region and do not bode well for a constructive attitude towards the resolution of the Cyprus problem. That is why the response of our three countries is clear. The only way forward is the binding resolutions of the UN Security Council and the fact that the resumption of negotiations promoted by the UN Secretary General is a necessary step.

For its part, Greece is declaring its intentions through its actions, shielding its defence, signing cooperation agreements with everyone, always in the light of international law.”

He added that Greece and Cyprus have signed agreements on the delimitation of their maritime zones with Egypt “which are based on the law of the sea and which were the product of long but good faith negotiations, showing the way to build good neighbourly relations, far from the logic of imposition, unilateral arbitrariness, gunboat politics, threats of war”.

He added that Greece and Cyprus have signed agreements on the delimitation of their maritime zones with Egypt “which are based on the law of the sea and which were the product of long but good faith negotiations, showing the way for building good neighbourly relations, far from the logic of imposition, unilateral arbitrariness, gunboat politics and threats of war”.

For his part, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, speaking through an interpreter, said, inter alia, that “it is our intention to intensify our activities and cooperation in the energy sectors. I want to highlight the qualitative development that lies in the signing today of the trilateral agreement on electrical interconnection in addition to the bilateral agreement that is a prelude that leads us to the common goal that the three countries are pursuing, which is the electrical interconnection with the European continent.

It is very important to work together to create a pipeline from Aphrodite to the two liquefied natural gas terminals in Egypt and to transport it through Greece to the Balkans and central Europe, which is in line with the great ambitions to establish the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum in the framework of regional cooperation and to exploit hydrocarbon reserves on the basis of international law that respects the sovereignty of all countries over their resources.

We discussed developments in the region and reaffirm our support for the efforts of the Republic of Cyprus for a just and peaceful settlement of the Cyprus problem within the framework of international legitimacy and UN resolutions./ibna