“Our relations with Israel have never been better,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in joint statements with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
The prime minister referred to the strategic alliance between the three countries. Speaking about the pandemic, he stressed the need to continue the effort to increase vaccinations and give booster shots to as many people as possible.
Mitsotakis said that they will have the opportunity to discuss the issue of climate change, adding that environmental protection is a very important issue for Greece. In this regard, he thanked the leaders of Israel and Cyprus for the assistance they provided in extinguishing the mega-fires that blazed in Greece during the summer.
He also said that they will discuss energy issues and referred to the importance of the EastMed gas forum as a mechanism of cooperation.
Regarding Turkey’s stance, he said that it unfortunately demonstated “continued intransigence and unacceptable behaviour, both on land and in the maritime zones of Cyprus” and stressed that any settlement in the fenced-off city of Varosha will “condemn any attempt for a mutually acceptable solution” of the Cyprus issue. He also reiterated that the only viable solution to the Cyprus problem is one that fully respects all decisions taken by the UN Security Council and stressed that there can be no solution without an abolition of the anachronistic system of guarantees and rights of third parties to intervene in Cypriot affairs and the complete withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops from the island.
Mitsotakis also referred to Greece’s post-pandemic economic recovery, noting that Greece hopes for even more Israeli investments in Greece and also more tourism from Israel.
In his statements, Israel’s Naftali Bennett said the three countries are three republics with geographical proximity and a common vision of the future, without overlooking common threats in the region such as repercussions of climate change, health issues and issues of security threatened by terrorism. In terms of energy, he said, trilateral collaboration on construction projects on land and at sea continues, while the three countries “are not just allies, but true friends.”
Cyprus’ Anastasiades spoke of the collaboration on several sectors becoming stronger among the three countries, and referred to Turkey’s aggressiveness and violation of sovereign rights, particularly in terms of the Cyprus Republic’s EEZ and Varosha.
He said that he would brief the other two leaders on the current state of affairs related to the Cyprus issue, and expressed his appreciation for the principled position Greece and Israel hold on the matter.
The three state leaders released a joint declaration. The full text follows below:
We, Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, and Nikos Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus having met in Jerusalem today, 7th December 2021, have agreed to strengthen the cooperation between our countries, in order to promote common interests and to work together towards peace, stability, security and prosperity in our nations, in the Mediterranean and the wider region.
Trilateral cooperation between Israel, Greece and Cyprus represents a center of joint interests connecting Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Our shared values provide a solid and enduring foundation for our partnership, in accordance with the fundamental principles of international law. We have welcomed the appointment of the Permanent Secretary of the Permanent Secretariat for the Trilateral Mechanisms, which will contribute to a better coordination in our various fields of cooperation and will further strengthen our ties.
The Abraham Accords represents a unique historic change in the region and grants a singular opportunity for strengthening our relations with the Gulf and North Africa countries. To this end we welcome the first of the Paphos meetings held last April with the participation of the UAE and we commit ourselves to broaden the scope of our cooperation to any and all stakeholders that share the same beliefs and objectives. A diplomacy that builds bridges is what we need right now and we are determined to accomplish it.
This cooperation has the potential to bring about a new coalition based on shared goals for regional stability to meet the challenge of radicalism and the promotion of economic interests. The 3+1 cooperation framework with the US indicates the importance we attach to the US role in the Eastern Mediterranean. We look forward to intensifying our cooperation with the United States with the view of planning the participation of the US, at the appropriate political level, at one of our next meetings in line with the letter and spirit of the strong support that the US displays to our partnership.
We reflect on our strengthening trilateral defense coordination, which includes strategic dialogue, military and defense-industrial cooperation. We express our full and unwavering support to the ongoing negotiation process, under the United Nations Good Offices Mission, for a just, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem, based on international law and the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. Such a solution, which will reunify the island, based on the respect of democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots, would not only benefit the people of Cyprus in its entirety, but also significantly contribute to the peace and stability of the region, through Cyprus’ independent foreign policy.
We firmly and unequivocally condemn all forms of terrorism, as well as incitement to violent acts and call upon the international community to work together in order to curb the movement of terrorists and foreign fighters, restrict assistance to terrorist entities and counter the propagation of extremism . We are concerned with those regional caters who sponsor and finance mercenaries in various conflict theaters. The spread of precision guided weapon systems as well as UAVs and cruise missiles is a dangerous development which we are determined to tackle. At the same time, we emphasize the importance of fighting terror financing.
Our countries continue to be challenged by the COVID19 virus. We emphasize the importance of sharing knowledge, expertise, best practices and technology, and we stand committed to offer mutual assistance to overcome the consequences of the pandemic and strengthen our cooperation in this field, in order to be better prepared for future challenges of this magnitude in the health sector.
Israel, Greece and Cyprus view the energy sector, and in particular, natural gas and renewable energy, as a solid foundation for cooperation in the region, based on international law, including the law of the sea and the respect of all states to exercise their sovereign rights in their respective EEZ/Continental Shelf.
We express the importance of respecting of sovereignty and sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean sea and to preserve the stability in this region.
In the framework of our cooperation in the field of energy we discussed the economic role of natural gas in our region and the EastMed Pipeline Project. We reconfirm our support of all projects of common interests EastMed Gas Forum, where the Presidency will be assumed by Cyprus on January 1 2022, constitutes the major opportunity for cooperation and dialogue, for the stakeholders of the region. The Forum builds upon the natural resources of the region to turn hydrocarbon reserves into a catalyst for regional stability and prosperity and to promote collective action for tackling common challenges of the environmental agenda.
We agree to work closely to reinforce our cooperation in meeting the challenge of climate change, through common projects, in the fields of innovative technology solutions, and renewable energy. We will continue to cooperate to promote energy and electricity connectivity between our countries through the Euro-Asia interconnector project including transmission of energy, produced by renewables, in-line with the outcomes of the recent COP26 summit and in preparation of the COP27 to be held in Egypt.
We acknowledge the importance of regional cooperation in the fields of environmental protection and reaffirm our commitment to further strengthen our cooperation on common environmental challenges, with empathies on water and waist water management and protection of the marine and coastal environment.
In view of the immediacy of the impact of climate change on the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider Middle East, we express willingness to cooperate in the framework of relevant regional initiatives, including through the Cyprus initiative for Coordinating Climate Change Action in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
We renew our commitment to strengthening our cooperation in the field of preparedness and response for emergency situations. Accordingly, we have decided to resume a working group on those issues.
We reiterate our steadfast commitment to the enhancement of EU-Israel relations. We underline the need to promote cooperation in the framework of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, and the immediate convening of the EU-Israel Association Council.
The ongoing turmoil in our region has triggered unprecedented migratory flows that pose challenges and can only be met by multilateral, multifaceted action.
We are convinced of the necessity of our trilateral cooperation and will continue working closely in order to realize its full potential, to the benefit of our countries and people, and to the wider region.
The three leaders have agreed that the next trilateral Summit will be held in Cyprus in the second part of 2022.