Cyprus Mail

Greece, Cyprus and Israel can provide stability in the region says Greek Ambassador

By Thalia Neofytou

Technical Coordinating committee has been set up to monitor all issues concerning energy, Greece’s Ambassador to Cyprus Elias Fotopoulos said on Saturday.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency after a trilateral meeting on Thursday between the leaders of Cyprus, Greece and Israel, he said that this means the three leaders were fully aware of what they wanted and in their statements at the end of the meeting, they “expressed their willingness for further cooperation”.

Fotopoulos expressed the view that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statements about the EastMed pipeline and the work on the underwater cable that will help further develop the region and contribute to exporting energy to the wider European area were very important.

Regarding Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ statements on the issue of guarantees in Cyprus, Fotopoulos said the fact that the statements were made during the trilateral meeting, means the issue has become an international matter.

Asked whether the transport of natural gas from Eastern Mediterranean countries to the floating terminal in Alexandroupolis is planned, the Greek Ambassador said that all projects which concern energy will be examined in more detail by the tripartite technical committee. He added that the committee will analyse the entire region, alternative routes and pathways that exist and will come up with a joint proposal, “to speed things up”.

Regarding plans to turn Greece into a natural gas transit hub in Europe and how this is affected by the drop in oil prices worldwide, Fotopoulos noted that the fluctuation of natural gas prices is not a permanent phenomenon and according to analysts this decline will not last for many years and plans for the future must be made in good time before potential markets are lost.

Greece, he said, has great potential to become a hub for the region, either through the transportation of natural gas by pipeline or by liquefied natural gas to Greece and from there to re-export to Central Europe and the Western Balkans.

Referring to the political messages of the trilateral meeting, Fotopoulos told CNA that the three countries have conveyed the message that the region is very unstable and there is a great need for stability. The three countries that can provide stability are Greece, Israel and Cyprus.

Regarding cooperation between the three countries, Fotopoulos said that this can focus on specific areas, should not create rivalries, nor it is directed against anyone.

On the practical results of the meeting, Fotopoulos said they include the adoption of the joint declaration and the setting up of the trilateral coordinating committee.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Tsipras and Netanyahu adopted a joint declaration on Thursday which is the foundation of cooperation in energy, tourism, research and technology, the environment, water management, terrorism and migration. A tripartite coordinating committee was set up to monitor the implementation of what was agreed.

A Memorandum of Understanding on water management was also signed by the Ministers of Agriculture of the three countries.

Fotopoulos did not rule out the possibility one day for Egypt and Israel to be sitting at the same table in the framework of a wider cooperation. The aim, he said, is to expand trilateral cooperation to include more countries that could play a very important role in the wider region and achieving stability and prosperity for their peoples.

The Greek Ambassador also said that Prime Minister Tsipras was very clear in his remarks on the issue of guarantees after a solution to the Cyprus problem. As a guarantor power of the Republic of Cyprus, he said, Greece fully understands that the system of guarantees is anachronistic and is contrary to the rules of law of the EU.

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