Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides met with his Greek counterpart in Athens on Friday on the sidelines of the Friendship Forum held Thursday in what was seen as an effort by Greece to expand its network of allies from the Mediterranean to the Gulf.
Talks between Christodoulides and Nikos Dendias focused on bilateral and regional cooperation as well as coordination between Athens and Nicosia in light of tension in the eastern Mediterranean and developments regarding the Cyprus problem, the Greek Foreign Ministry said in a tweet.
‘Philia’ (Friendship) Forum
According to Kathimerini Greece’s Vassilis Nedos, although the participants’ joint statement released after the Friendship Forum conference uses inclusive language to tout peace, security and stability in the wider region, it is implicitly aimed at those who do not seem to adhere to the common positions and values expressed – namely, Turkey.
“(W)e reiterated our common adherence to International Law, including the UN Charter, UN Security Council Resolutions and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to which we are all signatories. We stressed our strong commitment to fundamental principles enshrined therein, such as the respect of the sovereignty, sovereign rights, independence and territorial integrity of states, the peaceful resolution of differences and rejection of threats or use of force,” the statement says.
With the meeting, Cyprus, Egypt and Greece, three Mediterranean states which have found common ground over the demarcation of territorial waters and exclusive economic zones in the Eastern Mediterranean, reached out to the Gulf states of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to “exchange views on issues of common interest and concern, with the aim of further strengthening our cooperation and actively contributing to the consolidation of peace, stability and security in the wider region,” the statement noted.
The meeting was also joined by France, whose Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian participated via teleconference.
The ministers agreed to take joint initiatives on issues such as energy, innovation, the digital economy, civil protection and people-to-people contacts. “In the same vein, we also explored possibilities for further cooperation in the fields of science, agriculture, food security, academic education and training, interfaith dialogue, culture and sports,” they said. But they also discussed issues such as Syria, Libya and Yemen, the Middle East peace process and the pandemic.
In his message to the conference, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis underlined that “our initiative is open to all and is not aimed at anyone.” He later had a meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud.
Regional forum directed against Turkey, says Aksoy
Turkey has criticized the regional Philia (Friendship) Forum that convened Thursday in Athens, describing it as “an attempt to form an alliance built upon hostility towards Turkey.”
“It is not possible for any forum not including Turkey, the key country in its region, and Turkish Cypriots, to constitute an effective and successful mechanism of cooperation and friendship with regard to the challenges in the region,” said a statement by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy.
“The baseless accusations and slander against Turkey voiced by the Foreign Minister of Greece during the press conference held at the conclusion of this forum, which is allegedly ‘not pitted against anyone,’ demonstrates that this initiative is in fact an attempt to form an alliance built upon hostility towards Turkey, rather than ‘friendship’ as stated, Aksoy said.
“Those who caused destabilization in Libya by embracing putschists for the sake of their own maximalist demands and narrow agendas, who are trying to create a terror corridor that can potentially divide Syria and Iraq, and who have remained silent for years regarding the occupation of Azerbaijani territories should not exceed their limits and criticize Turkey’s humanitarian and fair policies in the region,” he said.
“This attitude displayed towards Turkey is hostile, especially at a time when attempts to establish a sincere and inclusive cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean are being conducted through Turkey’s proposal for an international conference. It also undermines the EU’s efforts in the context of the Union for the Mediterranean,” the Turkish spokesperson said.
“The Greek/Greek Cypriot duo’s attempts to prevent the EU from setting up a positive agenda with candidate state Turkey, and their conduct of politics by relying on others, threatens peace and stability in our region. We call upon this duo to act with common sense and invite the other countries attending this forum not to fall victim to the schemes of others,” he said.