Dear Presidents, ladies and gentlemen
We completed – a short while ago – the main part of the 8th Greece – Cyprus – Egypt Trilateral Summit. This is an example of understanding among three neighboring peoples. But it is also a model of three Mediterranean countries moving towards the same direction, sharing one compass: international law and peace in our turbulent region.
Many things have happened since our last meeting in Cairo a year ago. Unfor-tunately, not pleasant ones. The second wave of the pandemic has already cost our planet 1 million lives, while we are counting 40 million cases. This situa-tion is challenging the global economy. It is testing the cohesion of societies, but also thus showing that international coordination is the only effective defense against this unprecedented crisis.
Both Presidents have described in detail the individual issues of this highly ef-fective trilateral cooperation.
Allow me focus more on the issue of regional security, as the timing of this tri-lateral summit coincides with additional perils in the Eastern Mediterra-nean caused – unfortunately – by the leadership of Turkey that fantasizes im-perial practices with aggressive actions from Syria to Libya, from Somalia to Cyprus, from the Aegean to Caucasus. At times by drawing arbitrary maps, at times by signing invalid memoranda and at times by voting null domestic laws on issues governed by the international regulations. But, above all, ac-companying all the above with consecutive unilateral provocations, framed by an extreme, often hostile rhetoric.
We have agreed that this behavior blatantly violates International Law, ques-tions binding international conventions, while undermining regional security, something our three countries are working hard for. Adopting a stance which often – and this is particularly evident here in Cyprus dear Nikos – violates the decisions of the UN Security Council and the European Union. This atti-tude generates problems in the North Atlantic Alliance, and it conflicts with positions expressly stated by important countries, the United States, Russia, the Arab World, all neighboring countries I would say.
We had the opportunity to note the negative repercussions of Turkish aggres-siveness in our region. We had the chance to talk again about, bilaterally and also the three of us, how Ankara’s illegal memorandum with the administra-tion of Tripoli on the delimitation of non-existent common maritime zones is now proven to have deepened the crisis in Libya. At the same time, the trans-fer of Syrian mercenaries is spreading terrorist cells in North Africa, threaten-ing the security of Europe. Finally, it undermines our common effort to tackle terrorism, wherever it originates from.
Our position regarding Libya – as it was expressed in our talks – is clear. A po-litical solution in Libya can only come from Libyans themselves, without the presence of foreigners in its territory. Within this framework, initiatives like Egypt’s, with the two meetings in Hurghada, are always useful. Of course, Greece stands ready to contribute to a peaceful future for Libya.
We also talked about Turkish aggressiveness against the Republic of Cy-prus, which not only continues – with the deployment of vessels within its Ex-clusive Economic Zone – but unfortunately is escalating through inflammatory initiatives, like the one in the beachfront of sealed-off Famagusta, adding an-other wound on the occupied side of the island. It ignores UN’s resolutions on this topic and makes the path towards a just solution of the Cyprus issue more difficult.
We listened with interest President Anastasiades’ analysis on the state of play following the recent elections for the Turkish-Cypriot leadership. It goes without saying that during our trilateral but also during our bilateral meeting I stressed Greece’s steady, unwavering support for the rights of the Republic of Cyprus.
The first step would be to relaunch talks, under the auspices of the United States, as President Anastasiades immediately requested. Aiming for a united bi-zonal, bi-communal Cypriot federation. A just, sustainable and functional solution for the reunification of the island.
From our side, I had the opportunity to update my interlocutors on the de-velopments in the Eastern Mediterranean over the past three months. As you know, following intensive efforts to resume exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey, exclusively on the delimitation of the maritime zones in the Ae-gean and the Eastern Mediterranean – an initiative awaited by many parties – unfortunately Ankara chose delinquency. Instead of sending an invitation to resume talks, it initiated provocations with naval vessels. Instead of a dialogue leading to solutions, it opted for a monologue of disputes. Instead of fer-tile deliberations, it presented illegal claims.
Yet, only fair actions generate legality. In the meantime – this has been pointed out both by President Anastasiades and President El-Sisi – Athens signed and ratified two legal agreements to delimit its maritime zones with It-aly and Egypt. Especially with Egypt, after a long effort lasting 15 years, we have reached a mutually beneficial agreement.
Our talks with Albania are heading to the same direction. We have concluded that, since we cannot resolve our differences on our own on the delimitation of our maritime zones – we are ready to refer our differences to the Interna-tional Court. This is how serious, responsible states resolve their differences.
We have proven through our actions -guided first and foremost by In-ternational Law- that the Balkans as well as the Eastern Mediterranean can turn into a peaceful and stable areas. As both Presidents have said, Turkey of course has a place in this neighborhood of cooperation, if it wants to; as long as it can partake, as we discussed, in the same regulations and the same logic imposed by good neighborly relations and compliance with International Law.
We have repeatedly stressed this, but I think that we need to reiterate this: These trilateral gatherings do not exclude anyone a priori. This is not a coop-eration scheme that functions against anyone else. This is a cooperation ar-rangement among countries which acknowledge that through good-faith di-alogue we can achieve beneficial outcomes for our peoples, as well as for regional peace and regional prosperity.
Both Greece and Cyprus are aware of the fact the route of national dignity and alliances is a marathon. Oftentimes it is a hurdle-ridden course. There-fore, when facing a neighbor that militarizes diplomacy, Athens chooses to turn diplomacy into a weapon.
Athens asks European states to halt the export of military materiel to Turkey, as is after all stipulated by the 2008 EU framework on military ex-ports. The side of peace cannot provide the other side with bullets, which could eventually be used against member states of the European Union.
At the same time, Greece asks that the many violations of the provisions contained in the EU – Turkey Customs Union are documented, so that this agreement can be truly beneficial. It cannot be that a state, a third state, a candidate for membership in the European Union, is exempt from custom du-ties, enjoys the benefits of the single market and – simultaneously – threatens the eastern borders of the European Union, and causes trouble in the entire Mediterranean.
I had the pleasure to meet again – also within our bilateral meetings – the President of Egypt, my very good friend Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. As I already mentioned, this was our first meeting after the demarcation agreement be-tween our countries to establish an Exclusive Economic Zone. This is a huge step for the development of our economies and the prosperity of our peoples. We had the opportunity to acknowledge Egypt’s major role, as a factor in the political stability in the wider Eastern Mediterranean basin.
We must not forget that the statute of the East Med Gas Forum was signed a month ago. Within this Forum, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Palestine will be cooperating on energy issues. I will say it again, Turkey can participate in this partnership too. It can also participate in our trilateral partnership. Turkey has never been excluded in principle, by anyone. Yet of-ten its own actions bring about its marginalization, and unfortu-nately the attitude of its leadership does injustice to the Turkish peo-ple and its real interests.
Finally, let me conclude with this point, my dear friend Nikos we had the chance to hold another bilateral meeting, to reaffirm our common course on issues concerning the European Union. During the last two European Councils my cooperation with President Anastasiades has been ceaseless, close and very effective – I dare say.
Let me thank you for the impeccable organization of this trilateral Summit and your warm hospitality here in my beloved Cyprus. Nowadays, we don’t need to consider “where we are heading”, as Giorgos Seferis wrote in Cairo in 1942. He was a universal poet, but also a Greek diplomat who deeply loved our three countries. For, we – all of us – are steadily following the path of coop-eration. We follow the course of peace and International Law.
Dear Nikos, dear President, thank you once again for this exceptionally pro-ductive trilateral summit.