Egyptian and Cypriot FMs discuss economic and energy cooperation on sidelines of UNGA

Ahram Online , Tuesday 20 Sep 2022

Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry and his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides agreed on Monday on strengthening various aspects of trade and economic cooperation between the countries.

Shoukry and Kasoulides in Ney York. MOFA.

During their meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York, Shoukry and Kasoulides affirmed the importance of implementing the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the two countries as well as Greece in October 2021 to connect their electrical grids, the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The meeting reflects the special relation between the two countries and the foreign ministers discussed coordination of stances in international forums in general, and the United Nations in particular, according to the statement.

Shoukry congratulated Kasoulides on the latest natural gas discovery in Cyprus, expressing his aspiration to coordinate stances ahead of the ministerial meeting of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), to be hosted by Nicosia in October.

Established in 2020, the EMGF is an international organisation that embraces eight countries including Egypt and Cyprus and seeks to boost gas trade among regional states.

During a ministerial meeting for the Cairo-based EMGF in June, Egypt signed a landmark natural gas deal with Israel and the European Union under which Israel will transport natural gas to the EU from Egypt after being liquefied. 

With the EU aiming through this deal to reduce its dependency on Russian gas amid the Ukraine crisis, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said at the time that the deal “is a big step forward in the energy supply to Europe but also for Egypt to become a regional energy hub.” 

Besides Israeli gas, the EU also hopes that more Egyptian gas can be brought into Europe through less costly pipelines without having to be liquefied.

Egypt, which achieved self-sufficiency in natural gas in 2018, seeks to become a regional energy hub. Egypt’s natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export revenues rose by 98 percent to reach $3.892 billion in the first quarter of 2022, Reuters reported citing data from the Egyptian petroleum ministry.

Regional issues

During Monday's meeting, Shoukry and Kasoulides also probed a number of key regional issues, including the latest developments in Libya, the statement said.

In July, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stressed in a phone call with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades that Egypt looks forward to elevating cooperation with Cyprus, particularly at the levels of security, military, economy and energy, to achieve the interests of the two peoples.

This came a month after holding the Fifth Trilateral Defence Ministers Meeting of Egypt, Cyprus and Greece in which they signed a joint statement within the framework of their armed forces’ keenness to support defence and security cooperation in addition to achieve security and stability in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean regions.

In May during his official visit to Cairo, Kasoulides said that Cyprus fully supports Egypt’s stabilising role in the region, including its efforts in Libya and Palestine.

Constructive bilateral cooperation between Egypt and Cyprus is crucial amid the recent international developments, the Cypriot minister said at the time. 

In a joint press conference with Kasoulides, Shoukry stated that Cyprus continues to deliver Egypt’s voice to members of the European Union regarding important issues linked to Egyptian national security and the efforts to enhance security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

“Cyprus’s deep understanding of the circumstances of the region and the situation in Egypt has always made Cyprus a partner in efforts to strengthen Egyptian relations with Europe and the EU,” Shoukry said in May.

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