East Mediterranean cooperation
Reem Leila, Tuesday 8 Oct 2019
The seventh tripartite summit between Egypt, Greece and Cyprus discussed economic cooperation and Turkish violations in the Aegean Sea, Reem Leila reports

Marking their seventh tripartite summit, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi received Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday.

During the summit the three leaders signed a joint agreement banning double taxation to boost trade. They also discussed means of combating terrorism, extremism, illegal migration, and violence as well as enhancing regional security and stability.

Tripartite cooperation is very important at this time given the tremendous threats besetting the region, Al-Sisi noted during a joint press conference after the summit. “We exchanged viewpoints on many issues, including the Palestinian cause and conflicts in Syria and Libya,” Al-Sisi said.

The three condemned Turkey’s “unacceptable attempts” to drill in waters where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights. Anastasiades said Cyprus will resort to “all available diplomatic means to stop Turkey’s aggression”.

According to Anastasiades, such Turkish practices are considered a clear offence against Cypriot Republic rights as well as an evident violation of international law.

Al-Sisi pointed out that unilateral Turkish practices destabilised the whole region and “damaged the interests” of its countries.

Turkey used to send vessels to drill for hydrocarbons inside Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, claiming it was protecting its own interests and those of Turkish Cypriots.

The three leaders also vowed to exert more effort to solve the problem of illegal migration across the Eastern Mediterranean and improve their anti-terrorism strategies.

Mitsotakis said that Egypt is a strategic partner of the European Union and that Cyprus and Greece would work on further strengthening EU-Egypt relations.

In a previous summit in Crete, the leaders agreed to widen strategic cooperation on energy, including how to transport newly found gas in the region to Europe and linking the electricity grids of Europe and North Africa via an undersea cable. The 2,000 megawatt cable, known as the EuroAfrica Interconnector, will stretch nearly 1,000 miles from Greece to Egypt through Cyprus.

The first tripartite summit took place in Cairo in 2014 when the three parties discussed ongoing issues in the Middle East and the East Mediterranean region. The heads of state agreed to intensify cooperation among the three countries in the economy, security, tourism and energy.