Egypt, France, Greece, Cyprus agree on boosting cooperation, advancing regional, global peace

Amr Kandil , Saturday 20 Nov 2021

The foreign ministers of Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and France on Friday discussed means of boosting cooperation in various fields including energy, climate change, combating coronavirus, and migration, a communiqué on their meeting in Athens said.

Sameh Shoukry
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, right, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, left, Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, second left, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry pose for the photographers ahead of a quadrilateral meeting in Athens, Greece, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. AP

They also agreed on the need to prioritise advancement of peace and stability at the regional and global levels, and to advance comprehensive economic development that all the four countries aspire to in accordance with the existing legal multilateral framework, the communiqué said.

“We referred to the excellent relations among our respective States, in full accordance with International Law and the Law of the Sea, and stressed the strategic nature of our relationship, which lays the solid foundations for advanced cooperation in multiple fields,” it added.

Cooperation ties

Egypt’s Sameh Shoukry, Greece’s Nikos Dendias, France’s Jean-Yves Le Drian, and Cyprus’s Nikos Christodoulides held a press conference after their Athens meeting.

The meeting comes only a few weeks before France’s assumption of the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU) on 1 January, 2022.

Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus have held several meetings over the recent years at the highest levels to discuss boosting economic ties and cooperation in the field of energy.

During the presser, Egypt's Shoukry said the Athens meeting underscored the quad’s political will to continue enhancing cooperation relations in all fields, including energy, climate change, as well as economic development.

The meeting also discussed boosting cooperation within the framework of “benefiting from our natural resources fully and without an interference from any party whose policies lead to instability in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Shoukry noted.

Cyprus’s Christodoulides said the meeting discussed in detail cooperation regarding synergies that focus on strategic infrastructure projects, as well as the development of the region as an alternative energy corridor for Europe.

Turkey and Eastern Mediterranean challenges

Greece’s Dendias said it is unfortunate that challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya, and the Aegan still persist, calling Turkey a common denominator of most of them.

“Turkey continues to threaten Greece with war and to violate our sovereignty and sovereign rights,” Dendias said.

He added that Turkey also continues to illegally occupy the territory of Cyprus, to support the Muslim Brotherhood, and to use migration for political reasons.

Turkey also maintains military forces and mercenaries in Libya and sticks to the illegal Turkish-Libyan agreement, Dendias said.

In November 2019, head of the former Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez Al-Sarraj signed two memoranda of understanding with Ankara on maritime demarcation and military cooperation.

Egypt, Greece, Cyprus have called the accords illegal.

During the presser, Dendias affirmed that the Athens meeting is not tending to be against Turkey.

"We want good relations and a constructive dialogue [with Turkey] but of course always in the context of International Law and the International Law of the Sea,” Dendias said.

He affirmed that this can open new horizons in relations but said this still seems to be a “distant dream”.

Christodoulides said he briefed his counterparts on the latest developments in the Cyprus issue, thanking them for their firm support.

He stressed the need for the international community as a whole to send the necessary messages to the Turkish side on the need for an immediate resumption of talks on this regard on the basis of the agreed framework.

Despite UN diplomatic efforts to achieve a comprehensive settlement, Cyprus has been suffering for decades from a dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

The dispute has been fueled by a Turkish Cypriot announcement in July to partly reopen Varosha, Cyprus’s northern town emptied of its original Greek Cypriot residents and abandoned since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Egypt expressed concerns about the step.

During the presser, Christodoulidis said he briefed his counterparts on the illegal acts of Turkey especially in Varosha.

Issues of concern, migration

Cyprus, which is semi-occupied, is for the fifth consecutive year the EU member with the highest number of asylum seekers per capita, Christodoulidis said.

This has raised the percentage of asylum seekers to 4% of the population, he added.

He hailed Egypt’s "responsible way” in managing migration flows as opposed to other countries in the region that “systematically choose to instrumentalise human suffering in order to extort political and other benefits in return”.

The meeting discussed the future of relations between the EU and Egypt especially during the French presidency of the EU in 2022, Christodoulidis said.

France’s Le Drian said the converged views among the four countries will enable them to work together and contribute to resolving the crises and disputes faced by other partners.

This should lead to the stability and development in the Eastern Mediterranean, Le Drian said.

The meeting discussed the situations in Sudan and Africa’s Sahel, Shoukry said, adding that the ministers agreed on continuing joint efforts to achieve stability in this regard.

The ministers also discussed the Palestinian issue and peace process, developments in Libya, and the situations in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, as well as threats related to some countries’ interference in Arab affairs, Shoukry said.

The ministers agreed on the need that the Arab countries continue to take all measures to defend their national security without foreign interference.

Le Drian praised the quad, saying it expresses trust among the four countries.

GERD crisis

During the presser, Shoukry affirmed Egypt’s efforts to reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

“Egypt will continue efforts in this regard,” Shoukry said.

Egypt and Sudan have frequently called for a binding agreement on GERD to guarantee their water interests, warning that filling the dam without a deal violates Egyptian and Sudanese peoples’ rights.

Ethiopia implemented the second phase of filling the dam in July despite the two countries’ objection.

A presidential statement issued by the UN Security Council has called for the three countries to re-engage in African Union-sponsored talks to reach a solution to the dispute.

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