Tsipras, Anastasiades and el-Sisi agree to accelerate talks on delineating EEZs

Wrapping up a trilateral meeting in Athens on Wednesday, Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades issued a joint declaration pledging to deepen trilateral cooperation on all fronts and to accelerate talks on delineating their adjacent Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) at sea.

Tsipras, Anastasiades and el-Sisi agree to accelerate talks on delineating EEZs

"With awareness of the huge challenges in terms of stability, security and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean and the need for a coordinated and collective response, we met in Athens...for the third Trilateral Greece, Egypt and Cyprus Summit in order to deal effectively with these challenges and reinforce the foundations of trilateral cooperation in coming years," the declaration said.

"Within the framework of the trilateral and bilateral meetings we had, we confirmed once again the steady progress of our widespread and multilevel cooperation. Cooperation of peoples with long-standing ties, of countries in the same geographical area with common understanding and approach on a number of issues," Tsipras said in joint statements with the Egyptian and Cyprus presidents.

"This day marks our commitment to the joint cooperation," el-Sisi said and expressed his gratitude for the steps decided.

"We agreed on finding a fair solution for the Palestinian problem with the creation of an independent state based on the decision of June 4, 1967 and West Jerusalem as its capital," he stressed and added that Egypt will provide its support to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of the unity of the island and UN resolutions.

On his part, Anastasiades said that Cyprus and Greece decided to support the issues promoting EU relations with Egypt.

Moreover, he noted that the discovery of hydrocarbons can act as a catalyst for cooperation in the region. "Our partnership is not directed against anyone. The energy sources can meet the needs of all," he said.

Tsipras, Anastasiades and el-Sisi noted in their joint declaration that they "remain convinced of the strategic nature of this trilateral cooperation and will continue to work together closely in order to release [its] full potential," announcing their decision to set up a standing Joint Committee for Cooperation to design, develop and promote practical plans of trilateral interest.

They promised to continue efforts to improve trilateral consultations in all areas, noting that it served as a "model of regional dialogue via close coordination and cooperation in multilateral forums, as well as through efforts to further promote ties between the EU and the Arab world."

Among others, the agreement noted EU-Egypt ties and the need to support Egypt, especially in its struggle against terrorism, and the three countries' shared commitment to international efforts against ISIS/Da'esh and for stopping financial and military assistance to terrorism.

On migration flows, the three leaders noted the need to tackle the problem at its roots by resolving the conflicts and poverty that gave rise to the phenomenon, including in Syria, while urging the mobilisation of all EU member-states in efforts to deal with "this major challenge, which we can only face if we cooperate closely and remain united in our efforts, showing solidarity and adopting a genuine cooperative approach, with a sharing of responsibilities and burdens."

They also expressed support for the unity and territorial integrity of Syria, urging all sides involved in the Vienna Process to abstain from actions that "essentially undermine the spirit of the agreement we signed there."

The declaration noted the concern of all three countries for the security situation in Libya and Yemen, expressed support for the Iraqi government's efforts to achieve stability, peace and political cohesion, noted the agreement with Iran on its nuclear programme and repeated a commitment to a solution to the Palestinian problem leading to an independent Palestinian state, as well as a "just, viable and comprehensive solution to the Cyprus issue".

Referring to the recent discovery of considerable oil and gas deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean, including the 'Zohr' natural gas field in Egypt's EEZ, the three leaders underlined that these could play a "catalytic role for peace and stability in the region" and agreed to accelerate talks on outstanding issues concerning their respective EEZs.

They also agreed to continue working closely in the tourism and shipping sectors in order to "boost our cooperation in implementing joint projects, with the participation of both public and private agencies," and noting that such cooperation could include joint tourist packages and cruises and closer maritime links between the three countries for both passenger and cargo transport.

Lastly, they expressed shared concern over the destruction of cultural heritage in the Middle East and the organised looting and illegal trade in cultural goods "!involving, among others, ISIS/Da'esh," and pledged to intensify their action against this problem. They called for a strong UN Security Council resolution against the trade and transportation of art from war zones, with the onus of proving legality shifted to the sellers, auction houses and buyers rather than the countries of origin.

 

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