Egypt, Greece agree to reject ‘provocative actions’ in Eastern Mediterranean

Ahram Online , Tuesday 15 Sep 2020

Tensions have been rising in recent months amid Turkey’s claims to drilling rights in the region

Sameh Shoukry
Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry (R) during his meeting with Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias (L) in Athenas on Tuesday, 15 September 2020. (Photo courtesy of the Egyptian foreign ministry official Facebook page)

Egypt and Greece have agreed to push ahead with a rejection of what they described as " provocative actions" that destabilise and agitate the Eastern Mediterranean region, by developing their bilateral relations and contacting the concerned international parties.

Tensions have been rising in the Eastern Mediterranean in recent months amid Turkey’s claims to drilling rights in the region.

During a meeting in Athens on Tuesday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias stressed the importance of working side-by-side to make the Eastern Mediterranean a zone of prosperity, cooperation, and support for regional and international stability.

Shoukry was in Athens to take part in the 24th roundtable with the government of Greece, which covered several regional and international topics.

The two ministers cited the need for peaceful solutions for all outstanding issues in the region, including in Libya, Syria, and Palestine, given their effect on the stability of Egypt and Greece, according to a statement released by the Egyptian foreign ministry following the meeting.

During the meeting, Shoukry expressed his hope that the recent Israeli agreements with the UAE and Bahrain will open the way for more stability in the region and uphold the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, as well as establishing their independent state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Israel has agreed to suspend the planned annexation of areas of the occupied West Bank under the recent deals, a move that Egypt has repeatedly called for, along with the revival of the peace process.

The Egyptian minister also referred to the maritime demarcation deal signed by Cairo and Athens last month as an example of the mutual understanding between the two countries to achieve the stability in the region.

On 7 August, Egypt and Greece signed an agreement establishing an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between the two countries' borders for oil and gas drilling rights.

Shoukry stressed that the agreement is in line with international law and the law of the sea.

"This is evidence clarifying to the extent to which the two countries adhere to these rules governing international relations and also the mutual rights that must be maintained and defended to guard the interests of the two countries," he added.

The Egyptian-Greek deal came after a similar agreement between Turkey and Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean was signed last year. That accord was described by Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus as illegal, a violation of international law, and an infringement on their economic rights.

Tuesday’s meeting also tackled developments related to the establishment of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), which will pave the way for fruitful cooperation between member states to make the best use of energy resources in the region and extract the returns in a manner commensurate with international law, the statement read.

Shoukry said the meeting also included detailed discussions on bilateral relations, including cooperation at the political, economic and cultural levels.

Meetings with top officials

The meeting was preceded by talks with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou at the presidential palace in Athens, with discussion of a number of regional issues of common interest, including the crisis in Libya, the Palestinian cause, and the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Shoukry highlighted the Egyptian efforts to resolve these issues in the interests of regional peace and stability.

He also held talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, expressing the Egyptian government desire to increase Greek investments and tourist flows amid the "strict" anti-coronavirus precautions adopted in Egypt.

The talks also covered the trilateral cooperation between Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus, as a mechanism to continue political coordination and cooperation to enhance security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Both sides emphasised their eagerness to pursue a number of regional ventures, particularly power linkage projects, and cooperation in the energy field, the statement by the ministry read.

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