Energy should become a catalyst for peace, prosperity and energy security in the region, the House speakers of Cyprus, Egypt and Greece said on Monday following the first-ever trilateral parliamentary summit.
In a joint statement following the summit in Nicosia the parliamentary presidents of the three countries adopted a joint statement agreeing to meet again in Greece next year for the second such gathering, and in Egypt for the third meeting.
In the statement Cypriot speaker Demetris Syllouris, Egypt’s Ali Abdel Aal and Greece’s Nikolaos Voutsis stressed the importance of parliamentary cooperation between the three countries based on shared values and principles.
“This cooperation … is to the benefit of the three countries and their respective peoples and the goals of peace, stability and prosperity in the region,” it said.
On cooperation in the fields of energy, tourism, education and culture, they agreed to further strengthen ties through regular exchanges. They also agreed to consider the possibility of cooperating with other parliaments in the region.
The focus of the summit was on joint initiatives and actions, which aim at further promoting energy saving, energy efficiency and environmental protection and at combating marine pollution.
With regard to tourism the joint statement said that ways to further promote cooperation with joint packages was discussed. In education they discussed possible ways to further foster mutual understanding and closer people-to-people relations including promoting and teaching Arabic and Greek.
“This first trilateral meeting conveys a concrete political message: Our will to work together to the benefit of our countries and our peoples and to the benefit of peace, stability and prosperity in our troubled region,” Syllouris said.
“It is a cooperation without exclusions, based on a common vision, of peaceful coexistence, good neigbourhood relations, international law principles, mutual respect and cooperation for the prosperity of people in the region.”
Syllouris also referred to two initiatives by the House of Representatives, one for the establishment of a Middle East Cooperation Centre for the exchange of experiences and best practices between parliaments, researchers, academics, businesses and NGOs, as well as introducing Arabic lessons in Cypriot schools.
In terms of the energy issue, he made reference to Turkey’s provocation in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and expressed the Cypriot people’s thanks to his Greek and Egyptian counterparts for their countries’ support.
Voutsis spoke of the goal served by trilateral cooperation mechanisms developed by Cyprus, Greece and other countries in the Eastern Mediterranean to promote “peace, stability and growth”.
“The cooperation between Athens, Cairo and Nicosia is one of the most advanced, in context of its progress both on a qualitative and a quantitative level, through the common initiatives and programmes launched,” he said. “Our first meeting in Nicosia is the start and the opportunity to nurture this relationship and to contribute to the further progress of the trilateral mechanism between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt.”
Egypt’s House of Representatives Abdel Aal said the meeting conveyed a message “to all countries who try to prevent Eastern Mediterranean countries from exploiting natural wealth in the Mediterranean, be it natural gas or other forms of natural wealth, which is huge”.
“The meeting is of particular importance since in reality it is the founding meeting of a trilateral cooperation mechanism between the parliaments of Egypt, Cyprus and Greece.” It would become an example for others to follow, he added.