Egypt, Greece, Cyprus sign power linkage agreement in Athens

Amr Kandil , Tuesday 19 Oct 2021

Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus signed on Tuesday a trilateral agreement on power linkage, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said during a joint press conference after a summit gathering the leaders of the three countries in Athens.

The ninth trilateral summit
From left, Egypt s Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, and head of Egypt s General Intelligence Service (GIS) attend the trilateral summit with Cyprus and Greece in Athens, 19 October 2021. Egyptian Presidency

The ninth trilateral summit, focusing on energy and boosting trilateral cooperation, is part of a cooperation mechanism launched in 2014 between the three countries.

Egypt on Saturday signed an accord with Cyprus on linkage between the two countries’ electricity transmission networks. Two days earlier, Egypt also signed with Greece an agreement on an undersea cable that will transmit power from North Africa to Europe.

Energy cooperation

“This is an introductory step that brings us closer to the common goal that our three countries aspire to, which is connecting electricity in the future with the rest of the European continent,” El-Sisi said during the presser with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

El-Sisi also called for similar progress regarding the endeavours to establish an offshore pipeline from the Aphrodite gas field in Cyprus to the two Egyptian gas liquifying plants in Damietta and Idku in northern Egypt.

The president said this step paves the way for dispatching liquified gas to Egypt and Greece then to many countries in the Eastern Mediterranean and perhaps to Western Balkans and Central European countries.

“This is consistent with the great ambitions that were born with the establishment of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum,” El-Sisi said.

Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece are part of the EastMed Gas Forum (EMGF), a Cairo-based international organisation that aims to establish a regional gas market in the eastern Mediterranean and enhance trade relations among the member states.

During the presser, El-Sisi hailed the EMGF as an “entity that is reliable for the proper planning of regional cooperation projects.”

He said the EMGF also maximizes the benefit of its member states and countries of the region from the reserves of natural gas and hydrocarbon resources in the Mediterranean Sea in line with the relevant rules of international law and respect of the sovereignty of states over their resources.

Egyptian Minister of Immigration Nabila Makram also signed on Tuesday a memorandum of cooperation pertaining to expatriates with Cyprus and Greece, Egypt's state news agency MENA reported.

In joint statements after the summit, the Greek prime minister called cooperation with Egypt and Cyprus at the bilateral level “a beacon of stability” in the Eastern Mediterranean region in fields including energy, tourism, environment, and trade, Greece’s eKathimerini news service reported.

Mitsotakis said he agreed with Egypt and Cyprus during the summit on denouncing Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, warning that Turkey’s aspirations “pose a threat to peace in the wider region.”

The summit called on Turkey to respect the sovereign rights of all states in their maritime zones, according to Greek reports.

Neighbours Greece and Turkey, NATO members, have long been at odds over disputes including the energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean, with tensions flaring last year over exploratory drilling rights in areas in the Mediterranean. In September, a Turkish warship banned a Greek research vessel from entering what Turkey considers as its “continental shelf”.

Regional issues, counterterrorism

During Tuesday’s presser, El-Sisi said he discussed with Mitsotakis and Anastasiades a number of regional and international issues, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

The president reiterated Egypt’s support for the endeavours by Cyprus and other relevant international parties to find a fair, comprehensive solution to the Cypriot issue based on the resolutions of the international legitimacy and the United Nations Security Council.

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

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.

Other issues discussed during the summit included Libya, the Palestinian cause, the Syrian crisis, the situation in Lebanon, as well as efforts to counter terrorism and irregular immigration, El-Sisi said during the presser.

El-Sisi said he also highlighted during the meeting Egypt’s comprehensive perspective concerning human rights, affirming that it takes into consideration the economic, social, and cultural dimensions of rights.

The perspective also “focuses on achieving a qualitative leap in the quality of human life and enabling states to provide a secure and stable environment in which citizens exercise all their rights stipulated in the constitution and the law, with the need to respect the privacy of societies and peoples,” El-Sisi added.

Earlier in September, El-Sisi launched the National Strategy for Human Rights, the first of its kind in the country.

El-Sisi said he and the Cypriot and Greek leaders agreed during the summit on the need to hold elections in Libya as scheduled in December this year in accordance with the roadmap approved by the Libyans earlier.

They also affirmed the importance of the exit of all foreign troops and mercenaries from Libya in line with the relevant international resolutions in a way that restores Libyan sovereignty and protects its territorial integrity, according to El-Sisi.

The Egyptian president highlighted Egypt’s efforts to contain the recent escalation in the Gaza Strip as part of the country’s historic role in pushing forward efforts to find a fair, comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause based on the two-state solution.

He affirmed the need for the empowerment of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state on the borders of 4 June 1867.

“It is no secret that it [the Palestinian cause] is still the core of the conflict in the Middle East,” El-Sisi said.

He indicated that the summit has renewed support to the efforts of the UN envoy to Syria with the aim of reaching a peaceful settlement in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council’s resolutions.

“Our meeting today was an appropriate opportunity to confirm the consistency of our three countries’ positions to preserve the unity and territorial integrity of Syria,” El-Sisi said.

The summit also agreed on “rejecting attempts by some regional parties to impose fait accompli through violating the Syrian sovereignty and attempting to forcibly carry out demographic changes to some parts of the country,” El-Sisi said.

The leaders also called for facing the threat of terrorist organisations so that the Syrian people can restore security and stability.

El-Sisi said the summit also voiced support of the three countries to Lebanon and readiness to back all sincere efforts aiming at alleviating the suffering of the Lebanon community and contributing to achieving stability and improving the economic situation in the Arab country.

The three leaders also reviewed developments regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a statement by the Egyptian Presidency read.

El-Sisi “stressed the utmost importance Egypt attaches to the water security file and the Egyptian rights in Nile River as a fateful issue,” the statement read.

The Egyptian president also urged exerting all possible efforts to reach a legally-binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam, especially in light of the presidential statement issued by the UN Security Council last month.

This comes while Egypt and Sudan are expecting an invitation by the African Union to continue its sponsored talks aiming to resolve the dispute over GERD with Ethiopia so that the three countries can reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam.

Ahead of the summit, El-Sisi held separate meetings with Anastasiades and Mitsotakis.

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