Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ statements after the meeting of European leaders with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo

Madame President, dear colleagues, for those of us, as President Christodoulides pointed out, that have been advocating for a long time a stronger and closer partnership between the European Union and Egypt, today is indeed a very, very special moment. The implementation of the Comprehensive and Strategic Partnership with Egypt sets clear goals in terms of strengthening the relationship between the European Union and Egypt and recognises a very simple fact, that the stability and prosperity of Egypt is of critical importance to the European Union, and Greece will continue, as it has been, to be a steadfast supporter of Egypt’s relations with the European Union and to recognise the crucial role Egypt is called upon to play on numerous areas of common interest.

This strategic partnership is signed in a time of great upheaval in the Middle East and the topic was extensively discussed in our meetings and we’re all gravely concerned about the situation in Gaza, especially ahead of a possible ground invasion in Rafah, which, as the President of the Commission said, must be avoided at all costs. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is simply unacceptable. The situation demands an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages and the opening of all avenues for humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of the innocent people of Gaza.

Egypt has a major role to play and we’re grateful for your responsible stance and efforts, Mr. President, facing this crisis, whose consequences affect your country directly, and it is of paramount importance for the international community to act jointly to prevent a further destabilisation of the wider region. Greece, from its end, stands ready to contribute to any effort that will lead towards achieving regional stability.

In that spirit, our country has assumed a leading role in the defensive EU operation ‘ASPIDES’ in the Red Sea, with the aim of safeguarding freedom of navigation and protecting human life, an issue which is particularly important also for Egypt and the revenues it gets from the Suez Canal. The collective EU effort, with the support of regional stakeholders such as Egypt, can contribute to a secure environment in that strategic maritime area.

And we’ve also supported the launch of the Cypriot initiative for a maritime corridor as a complementary humanitarian route to that of the Rafah crossing.

We’ve also had an opportunity to discuss issues related to migration in light of the current geopolitical challenges in the Middle East and North Africa. And we commend Egypt and its efforts in preventing flows from reaching the Mediterranean route by hosting a huge number of migrants and curbing the illegal trafficking routes.

And we’ve discussed that we must prevent the opening of new routes and we will work very closely with Egypt to ensure that this goal will be achieved. We will also work very closely with Egypt to ensure that we open up legal pathways to migration in order to offer more young Egyptians an opportunity to travel to Europe legally rather than possibly risking their lives on very treacherous journeys.

Finally, we touched upon the future of our cooperation in energy, which bears great potential for both sides. Egypt has the potential of becoming a powerhouse regarding the production of electricity from the wind and the sun, and we reaffirmed our commitment to continue to advance projects such as GREGY Interconnection between Egypt and Greece, which has recently been recognised as a project of mutual interest by the European Union.

In closing, let me thank you again, President Sisi, for hosting today’s historical meeting. And let me reiterate again that the European Union stands ready to stand by and assist Egypt in its biggest challenges.