Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ remarks in the context of statements with the Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett and the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, at the Trilateral Summit between Greece, Cyprus and Israel.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Thank you very much, Prime Minister, dear Naftali, Mr President, dear Nicos. What a pleasure to be here in Jerusalem to participate once more in this trilateral scheme, which has proven to be so useful, so important in terms of ensuring the cooperation between our three democracies. It has been a steadfast promoter of regional peace, prosperity and security. And we will have the opportunity again today to touch upon various topics of common interest.
Of course, we enjoy, Mr. Prime Minister, fraternal relations with Cyprus. But I also need to point out that our relations with Israel have never really been better, and the project of the International Flight Training Center in Kalamata is a result, and I think a testament of this durable strategic partnership that we have managed to forge over the past few years.
Now we will be able to discuss recent developments regarding COVID. We are all aware of the fact that this pandemic is not over yet. We’ve learned a lot from Israel during these past 18 months. Probably the most important message is to continue aggressively pushing with our vaccination efforts and to make sure we get booster shots into the arms of as many of our citizens as possible. That is the only safe remedy against future spread of COVID.
We will also have an opportunity to discuss areas of common cooperation in challenges that stem from climate change. You did mention the area of civil protection, which is particularly important to us, and indeed we have the ability to much better coordinate our responses when it comes to addressing natural disasters such as wildfires.
I would like again to thank both your countries for supporting Greece during the horrible wildfires that we faced last summer. But it is clear that these challenges affect the Eastern Mediterranean as a whole, and that better coordination amongst our countries between Israel and the EU as a whole is going to be beneficial for all our people.
Of course, we will have the opportunity to also discuss the outcomes of COP26, how we move our countries at a fast pace towards decarbonization. You were aware, Prime Minister Bennett, that the European Union has set very ambitious targets regarding the reduction of CO2 emissions, 55% reduction by 2030, carbon neutrality by 2050.
But I think we all recognise that in the meantime, until we get to a future where almost all of our energy is going to come from renewable energy, in the meantime, natural gas is going to be particularly important. And that is why I would also like to emphasize what President Anastasiades said; The importance of the East Med Gas Forum as a mechanism of cooperation of better coordination amongst the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean.
And that is why it is important to focus on all infrastructure projects, whether they involve gas or electricity interconnections that will further create a more unified electricity and gas market amongst our countries.
Of course, we will also have an opportunity to discuss regional challenges.
President Anastasiades mentioned the very unfortunate events that have taken place in Cyprus over the past months, the unacceptable provocations when it comes to Varosha. But also this Turkish change of approach vis-a-vis the resolution of the Cyprus problem. I would like to reiterate once more that the only viable solution to the Cyprus problem is one that fully respects all the decisions taken by the Security Council, and our position is very clear: there can be no solution without the abolition of the anachronistic system of guarantees and rights of third parties to intervene in Cypriot affairs. And, of course, no solution without the complete withdrawal of the Turkish occupation troops from the island.
Unfortunately, what we see from Turkey is a continued intransigence and unacceptable aggression, both on land and in the maritime zones of Cyprus. And of course, the plans for the settlement in the fenced-off city of Varosha will, if continued, condemn any attempt for a mutually acceptable solution.
Let me bring my remarks to a close by mentioning again how many different areas of cooperation we have that we will have an opportunity to further explore. We will also touch upon the economic recovery post-COVID. Αll our economies are poised to recover at a very fast pace this year, and the opportunities for further economic cooperation are significant.
We already, dear Naftali, see significant Israeli investments in Greece, and of course, we are looking forward to welcoming even more Israeli tourists, and I’m happy that we can reach agreements regarding the mutual acceptance of vaccine certificates based on the specific requirements that each country sets in terms of classifying someone as being fully vaccinated. And finally, let me also point out how important the broader mechanism of cooperation that emerged in the area as a result of the Abraham Accords is also for Greece.
Looking forward to hearing more on this from you. And finally, let me again mention that the “3+1” format, with the participation of the United States, is also of particular importance. I had an opportunity yesterday to speak with Secretary Blinken and Senator Menendez, and I highlighted again how important it is for the United States to remain engaged in what is happening in the Eastern Mediterranean.
So again, thank you, dear Naftali, for the very warm hospitality, always a great pleasure to be in Israel, to be here in Jerusalem. We’re looking forward to very meaningful discussions.
Thank you very much.