On Saturday a summit between Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and his Cypriot counterparty Nicos Anastasiades gave a boost to Egyptian-Cypriot relations as well as their ties with Greece in preparation for next month’s three-pronged Egypt-Cyprus-Greece summit due to be held in Greece. Another tripartite summit is expected in December, reports Doaa El-Bey.
In addition, Egyptian-Cypriot military games, dubbed Ptolemy 2021 and which started last week with the participation of special forces from both countries, further enhanced relations on the military level.
The bilateral summit provided a further leap in the relations between the two states, addressing joint challenges in the region and pushing mutual cooperation forward on various levels.
Al-Sisi described his talks with Anastasiades as “fruitful and constructive”. It was held on the fringe of the first meeting of the Egyptian-Cypriot higher governmental committee at the presidential level.
“Inaugurating the joint higher committee, which comes at a vital time, will have a positive impact on the overall relations between the two countries,” Al-Sisi said during a press conference that followed the two leaders’ meeting.
Anastasiades told the press conference that the inauguration of the joint committee “represents a new step on the road to strengthening the strategic partnership between the two friendly countries,” which has become a pillar of regional stability.
The joint committee was scheduled to discuss various vital aspects of bilateral relations, especially in the fields of defence, military cooperation, security, energy, trade, investment, maritime transport, agriculture, education, environment, and youth.
The Cypriot president also noted that Egypt and Cyprus will soon sign a memorandum of understanding on linking electricity between the two countries.
Both countries face similar challenges, including terrorism, illegal migration, the impact of regional instability, especially in Syria, and Libya, and Turkey’s attempts to drill inside waters where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights.
In addition, Egypt has repeatedly supported Cyprus’ efforts aimed at a permanent and comprehensive settlement of the Cypriot dispute, according to UN Security Council resolutions, and the reunification of the country.
During his talks with Anastasiades, Al-Sisi reiterated Egypt’s strong stand with Cyprus against practices that may compromise its sovereignty.
Egypt was one of the first countries to recognise the Cyprus Republic after its independence in 1960 and their relations have grown noticeably stronger in recent years.
On the trilateral level, both Al-Sisi and Anastasiades agreed on the importance of promoting a tripartite cooperation mechanism among Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece.
Perhaps one of the greatest achievements of the trilateral cooperation was the establishment of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), headquartered in Cairo, comprising the three states together with France, Italy, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel.
The growth in cooperation between Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus dates back to a meeting between the three countries’ foreign ministers on the margins of the 2013 and 2014 UN General Assembly. The meetings quickly turned into a broad alliance fostering cooperation across a range of economic, political, and strategic interests. Eight summit meetings have since taken place, the first in Cairo in 2014. It was during the sixth summit in Crete in 2018 that the three countries decided to establish the EMGF.
Also during this week’s meeting, President Al-Sisi underlined with Anastasiades the urgent need to reach a legally binding agreement on filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
He said the international community should play a serious role in settling the water dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia to maintain regional stability.
Al-Sisi also briefed his Cypriot counterpart on Egypt’s efforts to bring about a fair settlement to the dam issue and bring GERD tripartite negotiations back on track.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 9 September, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.