Egypt, Cyprus, Greece leaders talk EU, Turkey, Palestine

Ahram Online, Saturday 8 Nov 2014

A tripartite summit in Cairo on Saturday aims to boost ties in economy, trade, tourism and energy

El-Sisi with Cyprus
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (C) shakes hands with Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades (L) and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras after a summit and a news conference at the presidential palace in Cairo November 8, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Leaders of Egypt, Greece and Cyprus held a press conference in Cairo on Saturday where they discussed strengthening economic ties, the European Union's support to Egypt, Turkey-Cyprus relations and Palestine.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades spoke on the sidelines of a tripartite summit to strengthen relations between the three countries.

The Greek premier said Greece and Cyprus, both EU members, will push for the EU to support Egypt morally and financially in its efforts.

He praised Egypt's efforts in its fight against terrorism as well as what he described as "Egypt's efforts to protect Christians who are in danger of being excluded from their countries."

Before the press conference, El-Sisi met with Samaras and Anastasiades in two separate meetings where they discussed efforts to combat terrorism as well as strengthening economic ties between Cairo and the two southern European countries.

Egypt and Cyprus have enjoyed a strong relationship for decades, dating back to a friendship between late presidents Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Makarios III.

Last year, Greece was among the first members of the EU to recognise Egypt's post-30 June government after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Egypt's El-Sisi said the three leaders asserted their determination to combat terrorism by intensifying cooperation in all areas, including security, for the purpose of eliminating the "terrorist group" and uncovering its financial backers.

Regarding the Turkey-Cyprus conflict, the Cypriot president said the issue had been discussed and that the three leaders agreed that division is unacceptable, as Cyprus is one country with one identity.

Cyprus' president said that both sides, especially Turkey, must show goodwill and focus their efforts on mediation in order for the ongoing negotiations between Turkey and Cyprus to work.

He described Turkey's recent measures as "provoking," adding that the three leaders have denounced such actions.

Turkey recently began charting gas deposits in parts of the eastern Mediterranean claimed by Cyprus – which Greek's premiere Samaras called "completely unacceptable."

El-Sisi did not comment on the Turkey-Cyprus dispute.

Greek and Turkish Cypriots have held peace talks to solve territorial disputes on the island, which was partitioned by a 1974 Turkish invasion that followed a brief coup engineered by the military junta ruling Greece at the time.

Meanwhile, the Cypriot president said the three leaders agreed that a solution has to be reached for the establishment of an independent, habitable Palestinian state, side by side with Israel.

The Cypriot president is scheduled to visit Israel in early December.

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