Egypt, Cyprus and Greece join forces against 'illegal migration'

Ahram Online , Tuesday 11 Oct 2016

El-Sisi, Anastasiades, and Tsipras
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (L), Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (R) during the fourth tripartite meeting held in Cairo (Photo Courtesy of Egypt’s Presidency)

Egypt agreed on Tuesday with Cyprus and Greece to work on stopping the flow of irregular migrants during a tripartite summit held in Cairo between the leaders of the three countries.

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said in a press conference that the three leaders agreed on making the migration crisis a priority and that the solution should not be limited to security measures and deportation.

El-Sisi added that Egypt was interested in boosting cooperation between Cyprus and Greece to work towards mutual interests, adding that the summit saw discussion of several visions on how to enhance strategic relations.

This is the fourth tripartite summit recently held between the three countries, with the first held in Cairo in November 2014, the second in Nicosia in April 2015 and the third in Athens in December 2015.

The discussions also involved talks on energy, preserving the ecosystem in the Mediterranean, and activating maritime transport between the three countries. 

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said that the discussions with El-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras were successful, stressing that the cooperation between the three countries was not "directed against any other state," in what is believed to be a comment directed at Turkey.

During a 2014 Cairo visit, the Cypriot president slammed Ankara for its handling of negotiations with Cyprus over disputed territory in the country under Turkish control.

Though El-Sisi had not commented on the Turkey-Cyprus dispute at the time, on Tuesday he put Egyptian support behind Cyprus to reach a fair solution that would ensure the unity of the country while preserving the rights of all Cypriot citizens in accordance with legitimate international accords.

Relations between Turkey and Egypt have been strained since the 2013 ouster of Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, a close ally of Erdogan's AKP government.

Anastasiades added that the three countries face mutual challenges that call for more cooperation, especially in combating terrorism and the flow of migrants.

Greece’s Tsipras described the cooperation between Cairo and Nicosia as one that was strategic to his country, adding that they also discussed joint projects related to the natural gas fields in the Mediterranean.

He said that Europe’s security depends on neighboring countries, especially Egypt, adding that the Palestinian issue and the establishment of a Palestinian state were also discussed during the summit.

Following their meeting, the three leaders sent a symbolic message of peace by planting three olive trees as a show of support for peace and stability in the Middle East region.  

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