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France to be included in next multilateral meeting

Government spokesman Kyriacos Koushios

The quadrilateral summit between Cyprus, Greece, Egypt and France at foreign minister level early next month aims at deescalating tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, which is also Nicosia’s goal, Government Spokesman Kyriacos Kousios said on Tuesday.

The four-way was announced on Monday by Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Dendias. He said it was expected to take place at the beginning of January in Cairo.

Kousios told the Cyprus News Agency that Paris’ participation in the 3+1 scheme signalled “France’s interest in what is happening in the eastern Mediterranean, nothing more, nothing less.”

He also said that the quadrilateral with France did not aim to contribute in any way to a “heated incident” in the region but rather avoid such a possibility.

He said the moves made are not aimed at provoking Turkey.

“It is Turkey that is being provocative and we are making various moves to make Turkey realise that it will need to set aside gunboat diplomacy and discuss,” Kousios said.

“The aim and policy of the government is to ease the tension. The moves we are making are not aimed at isolating Turkey but so the signature of the memorandum of understanding with Libya has no effect,” he said.

News of the quadrilateral followed the announcement that Cyprus, Greece, and Israel will be signing an agreement soon for the construction of the EastMed pipeline.

President Nicos Anastasiades will travel to Athens on January 2 for the signing of the agreement.

Though the sudden announcement the agreement would be finally signed, and promptly, was seen as a response to a maritime deal between Turkey and Libya which has ignored the rights of other countries in the region, the government said the EastMed deal was not directed against anyone. Cyprus, Greece, Israel and Italy had agreed to proceed with the project in December 2017.

The €5.3bn EastMed project concerns the construction of a 1,900-kilometre pipeline to transport natural gas from Cyprus and Israel to Europe through Greece and Italy. Italy will not be signing the agreement on January 2 due since it first needs to sort out problems with the residents of some areas where the project was meant to go through.

In the meantime, Nicosia and Athens have been in a race during the past few days to garner as much support possible from partners in the region against Turkish actions.

Anastasiades on Monday had a telephone conversation with King Abdullah II of Jordan whom he briefed, according to the government “on the latest developments and the dangers created due to Turkey’s everyday provocations” as well as the memorandum of understanding the latter signed with Libya, aiming at the delimitation of maritime zones between them.

The majority of political parties welcomed the announcement on the EastMed agreement with some also cautioning over escalation of tensions.


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