President Nicos Anastasiades says a ‘code of conduct’ has been established between Cyprus, Greece, and Israel, following the completion of a trilateral meeting in Nicosia that yielded a long declaration, and paved the way for another meeting before the year is out to discuss an ambitious EastMed pipeline.
The meeting was held at the Presidential Palace, where Anastasiades hosted Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A declaration was issued saying the leaders "express our commitment to continue strengthening the cooperation between our countries in the framework of a trilateral partnership encompassing an ever-increasing number of areas of common interest and, in the process, contribute to the promotion of peace and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider region."
According to political analysts at Kathimerini, the two dominant issues emerging from the meeting had to do with energy planning in connection with latest developments in the Cyprus problem as well as discussion on pushing forward for the East Med gas pipeline.
Officials representing the three countries signed a number of agreements and memorandums, including cooperation on satellite operations and telecommunications, regional action plans for sea pollution, and relations between the commerce and industry chambers of the three countries.
There were also bilateral agreements between Cyprus and Israel on public safety cooperation and co-production of films, as well as a memorandum on roaming charges between Greece and Israel.
Anastasiades: cooperation is mutually beneficial
Anastasiades, who hosted the two leaders, said he was confident about the good relations between the three countries.
“I am certain that our cooperation will promote mutual benefits for our countries, and the proof is in the agreements we signed that deal with our cooperation on multiple issues,” the president said.
The Cyprus president also praised the work on broadband connections through a fiber optic cable, while also confirming that the Cyprus problem was also on the agenda.
Anastasiades also reiterated his support on restarting the Middle East peace process, in such a way he said, that both Israeli security and the creation of a Palestinian state would be possible.
He was offered condolences by the two leaders on the loss of his mother, Theano Anastasiades, who died on Sunday at the age of 95. Her funeral was scheduled for Tuesday.
Netanyahu: common interests, shared values
Netanyahu said Israel enjoy good relations which are becoming ever more strengthened, he said, citing a recent transport of a wounded police officer from Limassol to Tel Aviv for emergency medical treatment.
The Israeli leader also pointed out that many citizens of his country visit Cyprus and Greece, while jokingly urging Anastasiades and Tsipras to do the same.
Netanyahu also singled out Iran during his remarks in Nicosia, accusing the Tehran for being a threat to peace in the region.
“We have common interests in the Eastern Mediterranean because we share common values. If there is one state that turns against the state of Israel, that is the regime in Tehran. It is a threat to all of us that they want to reach all the way to the Mediterranean,” Netanyahu said.
The Israeli leader made headlines days earlier with a power point presentation in English, accusing Iran of not being truthful with the world about its nuclear ambitions, just days before US President Donald Trump is expected to announce his own decision about whether he will take a tougher stance against Tehran.
Tsipras: ocean of peace, not tension
Tsipras also echoed a similar message of peace during his own remarks, saying that the Mediterranean Sea ought to be an ocean of peace, not tension.
The Greek prime minister said the main subject he saw on the agenda was the East Med pipeline but also the fiber optic cable, calling the connector a “work of high geostrategic and geopolitical importance” citing an upcoming EastMed international agreement in 2018.
Tsipras also touched on the Cyprus problem, calling once again for the abolition of military guarantees on Cyprus. The remark comes a couple of days after Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci called on Greek Cypriots to give up what he called ‘maximalist positions’ regarding the issue. Essentially, Greece - one of the three guarantor countries along with Turkey and Britain - sided with Anastasiades on calling for zero troops and zero guarantees.
The Greek prime minister also said Greece was a welcoming nation and a safe destination for Israeli tourists. He also reiterated Greek support for a two state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Energy disagreement goes to arbitration
Knews understands that a recent disagreement between Cyprus and Israel on gas distribution was left off the agenda to be discussed in private between Anastasiades and Netanyahu.
Due to a lack of a formal agreement to arrange development of gas reservoirs lying within the territory of both countries, Israel is refusing to allow Cyprus to develop Aphrodite because pumping gas from it will also cause gas to be pumped from the Yishai prospect.
The Aphrodite natural gas reservoir is located mostly on the Cypriot side of the maritime border, but some of it also lies within the Yishai license on the Israeli side.
The two countries will most likely take their disagreement to international arbitration, according to observers.
Israel trilateral in 2018
The three leaders plan to meet again in the city of Beersheba before the year is out to discuss combating the financing of terrorism.