Greece is gradually emerging from an extended crisis with the support of the countries that, working in collaboration with Greece, hope for stability and security in the region and common steps of progress, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in statements after the Greece-Cyprus-Israel Trilateral Summit in Thessaloniki on Thursday.
In statements after talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, he highlighted that the choice of Thessaloniki to hold the 3rd Greece-Cyprus-Israel Trilateral was not random, but a chance to honour and remember that city’s large Jewish community, which was decimated by the Nazi atrocities in WWII
Tsipras said the talks during Thursday’s meeting had discussed the inclusion of a telecommuniations element in their trilateral cooperation and diaspora issues, since all three countries had a large expatriate presence going far beyond their borders. The main focus, he added, was on energy, which was one of the most important pillars of the strategic cooperation of the three sides and one with great potential given the geopolitical positions of the three countries.
With Greece’s strategy to become an energy hub and the possibility of new natural gas fields in the Exclusive Economic Zones of Cyprus, Israel and Greece, the prospects of cooperation between the three countries became highly interesting, not only for the countries themselves but also for the broader southeastern Mediterranean region, he noted. This would also contribute decisively to the European strategy for a diversity of energy sources, he added.
During the talks with Anastasiades and Netanyahu, he reported, they agreed to speed up joint action for the construction of a major EastMed Pipeline project, which will create new prospects for joint development in the eastern Mediterranean. They then discussed the Eurasia Interconnector, which links the three countries and the prospects for exploiting renewable energy sources.
Anastasiades also briefed the Greek and Israeli premiers on the latest developments concerning the Cyprus issue and his recent meeting with the UN Secretary General on June 4.
The Cyprus president thanked them for their support of the “process to finally find, as soon as possible, a solution that allows Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to live in a state of security, stability and peace, to be able to jointly create, but also with the creation of a state that is functional, stable and viable over time. Especially one that will respect human rights and also the fundamental principles of the EU, since it will continue to be a member of the EU.”
In statements after the meeting, Tsipras said they expressed their support for the Cyprus’ president’s efforts and “we all hope there is a response on Turkey’s part, so that we have a positive development regarding the Cyprus issue in Geneva on June 28.” He highlighted that the solution found must “include the abolition of the guarantees system and the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island.”
Anastasiades, on his part, highlighted his conviction that “we must work collectively, through political and diplomatic coordination of our action, in order to deal effectively with the multiple challenges that we face.” The adoption of the Thessaloniki Declaration was one more step toward the vision of making the Eastern Mediterranean secure and stable, a region of growth, collaboration and interaction, he said.
Anastasiades also underlined his commitment to continue working tirelessly to solve the Cyprus problem, while noting that the desired result and a reunification of the island “now depended on the other side.”
The Israeli premier spoke about the relations of the three countries in the past, present and future, saying he was impressed with the warm and friendly climate at these meetings. He focused on the energy sector actions discussed, noting that the EastMed Pipeline idea “will be a true revolution”, and emphasised cooperation on the level of new ideas, innovation, and enterprise “for the benefit of all our citizens.”