The fifth trilateral summit of Cyprus, Greece and Egypt was completed in Nicosia on Tuesday with the three leaders producing yet another joint declaration, this time the Nicosia Decaration. The reality is that all these trilateral meetings, thought up and organised by President Anastasiades, produce is a large quantity of words and little else.
This is not to say these are of no value. Developing closer ties with neighbouring countries – there is a similar trilateral arrangement among Greece, Cyprus and Israel – through regular meetings of the respective leaders creates a basis for co-operation and understanding at government level. They do not, however, have the significance Anastasiades and his spokesmen like to claim.
Tuesday’s remarks about the trilateral meeting by Disy spokesman Prodromos Prodromou were indicative of how the government has been trying to talk up these alliances. “In our days the traditional relations with Egypt have acquired strategic content and the dimension of a geopolitical axis,” said Prodromou adding that the “Anastasiades presidency is directing our foreign policy with method and planning and has created a model for co-operation among all neighbouring states of the southeastern Mediterranean in the form of trilateral meetings and co-operations.” He did not go into details about the “strategic content,” or the “geopolitical axis.”
Anastasiades was more grounded, saying the Declaration of Nicosia constituted a reference point for the priorities of the three countries in all fields of trilateral co-operation, “a co-operation that has brought tangible results on a political, economic and social level.” There was one tangible result on Tuesday but it was not in the dimension of the geopolitical axis – the trilateral protocol for joint action on the promotion of tourism in the region, more specifically cruises.
The protocol could be of practical value and benefit all three countries and this is what the trilateral alliance should be focusing on. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi did exactly that in his public comments, avoiding reading more significance into the trilateral meeting than it actually had. Anastasiades and Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras could not resist the temptation of making grandiose statements about bringing peace to the eastern Mediterranean and reducing the tension.
Tsipras spoke of the “common aim” of the alliance “to find constructive solutions through the promotion of co-operation and peace-building in the broader region,” while Anastasiades said the leaders discussed the situation in Lebanon and “the need through synergies to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in the country.” It is a bit difficult to take the trilateral alliance seriously when we hear comments like these, which indicate all sense of measure has been lost.