The close trade, military and energy ties between Greece, Cyprus and Israel “are a guarantee for the security of the wider region, which is plagued by crises and dangerous revisionisms,” stated Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Tuesday, during joint statements with his Cypriot and Israeli counterparts, Nikos Christodoulides and Gabi Ashkenazi, respectively, following their meeting in Athens.
The three ministers had met for another of their cooperative conferences on joint projects which would serve to bring the three countries closer together in these three areas. “We are creating a new geography of understanding that transcends old stereotypes, that reshapes the map of our region,” Dendias said.
The Greek Foreign Minister also noted that the trilateral scheme is strongly supported by both the EU and the US.
Dendias, echoed by his counterparts from Cyprus and Israel, said that the three powers are completely open to the policy of enlarging their trilateral cooperation to include other countries in the region — provided that certain self-evident criteria are met, such as respect for international law and the rules of good neighborly relations.
“Unfortunately, our meeting is taking place under the pressure of new illegal actions on the part of Turkey,” the Greek foreign minister added.
“In just a few days, Turkey is again attempting through its actions to torpedo any prospect of constructive dialogue by illegally engaging areas within the Greek continental shelf for illegal seismic surveys or by provoking, with the Turkish vice president’s illegal visit to occupied Varosha,” he said.
Dendias added that these developments were at the epicenter of his meetings on Monday and Tuesday, with the common denominator always to find legal means to encourage Turkey to cease its aggressive actions and to mitigate its destabilizing role in the region.
“We pointed out that the antidote to the revisionist views and to Turkey’s attempt to impose its positions by force is to develop a multilateral cooperation that is in the interest of all the countries in the region,” he said.
“Our Region will not Return to the 19th Century”
“Our region will not return to the 19th century, we will not allow this to happen,” Dendias declared, adding that the trilateral cooperation “goes beyond the strict boundaries of an energy program. Energy may be the priority, but these countries are aiming at the further improvement of their economic and political relations, and it may extend to a series of other sectors, such as defense, security, technology, research, water management and others.”
Finally, he welcomed the normalization of Israel’s relations with the UAE, Bahrain and more recently, with Sudan.
Israeli FM Gabi Ashkenazi expressed his added conviction that the trilateral meeting with his Greek and Cypriot counterparts in Athens has further enhanced their mutual relationships, while speaking to the press after the meeting.
He said that their joint aim was to “continue the stability and our defense cooperation for security in our region,” adding that “I am certain that these meetings will further enhance our bilateral relations. Via a creative diplomacy with the other countries of the region also, we will be able to attract their interest in our region,” he added.
In this way, “we will be led to prosperity and to a sincere and good relation between us,” he stated.
Ashkenazi noted that, as Foreign Minister of Israel, he strongly believes in diplomacy and in triangular cooperation for the good of the region, especially for Israel, Greece and Cyprus, stating that the three countries could go even further in other sectors, such as strategic cooperation, technology, peace and health.
Focusing on the Middle East, he said that after many diplomatic difficulties, “in the last months we are witnessing windows of opportunity opening up between different countries and different cultures.”
The Israeli FM said that the signing of an agreement for the normalization of relations between Israel and Sudan, Bahrain and the UAE proves that they will proceed with strategic collaboration in the economy, trade and culture sectors, offering a better future to younger generations.
“Positive Wind Blowing in the Middle East”
Ashkenazi said that a positive wind of economic prosperity, security and stability is blowing in the Middle East and he called on the Palestinian Authority to take advantage of this opportunity in order to also be able to integrate these initiatives and lead its people to better days of peace and stability.
Additionally, Ashkenazi thanked the United States for its initiative for the peace and stability of the region, saying warmly “We could not have achieved it without the USA’s good will.”
Finally, he invited his counterparts to Israel for the next tripartite meeting, in order that the three countries may continue to forge a path of prosperity and peace in the region.
Turkey “A threat to stability and security in East Mediterranean”
In the midst of these very welcome, positive developments leading to peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, however, “Turkey unfortunately constitutes an exception,” Cyprus Republic Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Christodoulides told reporters.
Turkey’s recent illegal actions lead to escalating tensions and “undermine regional stability,” he said after the trilateral meeting, citing its actions at Famagusta that contravene UN Security Council resolutions in particular.
Regarding the trilateral meeting, Christodoulides said it provided an opportunity to expand collaboration and security in the region, including the recent signing of the founding charter for the East Mediterranean Gas Forum. Agreements such as this provide models of regional collaboration, he added.
Projects which would be the fruit of this new trilateral cooperation are the prospective three-way electricity grid between Israel, Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete by means of an undersea cable, which may become a reality by the end of 2023.