Concerns over possible unilateral actions violating the sovereignty, sovereign rights and territorial integrity of any country in the wider East Mediterranean region were top of the agenda for the the Defence Ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Egypt during their 5th trilateral meeting on Monday.
In a statement after their meeting, Egypt’s Defence Minister General Mohamed Zaki, together with his counterparts from Cyprus and Greece, Charalambos Petrides, and Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, stressed the need for all countries to respect international law and the UN Charter, the UN convention on the law of the sea (UNCLOS) and all other relevant agreements.
According to the joint statement, the trio reviewed the progress of defence and security cooperation and expressed their appreciation of the joint accomplishments. They also reaffirmed their common will and determination to further develop coordination, cooperation and joint endeavours to boost security and stability, as well as to support the creation of an environment in the Eastern Mediterranean conducive to growth, well-being and prosperity of their people, Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reported.
They also reviewed developments and perspectives concerning the security and strategic conditions in the Middle East and East Mediterranean as well as the tensions affecting the security and stability of the broader region.
The ministers agreed on a joint vision that supports the continuously increasing strategic importance of the East Mediterranean in the present and future of the portfolio of energy climate change and security, the security of transportation lines and international maritime trade routes.
They also stressed the importance of their cooperation for enhancing the security of energy supply, providing an additional source of energy supply of Europe and have recognised the military and security tasks and burdens that necessitate boosting coordinated and cooperative efforts.
The three countries expressed their deep concern about the restoration of terrorist organisations and their activity in many conflict and tension hotbeds in the Middle East and the African Sahel.
At the same time smuggling with all its forms, illegal migration and human trafficking, still pose a constant challenge, they agreed.
“The phenomenon of mercenaries, the transfer of foreign fighters and support for armed militias, all constitute a dangerous threat to regional and international peace and security and impose further responsibilities to cooperate and coordinate countermeasures against these challenges,” CNA reported.
The Ministers of Defence hailed efforts by their countries’ armed forces to implement joint training programmes for the three services (Army- Navy- Air Force) and welcomed the participation of friendly countries in these exercises which represent a cornerstone for coordination and capabilities integration to enhance regional peace, security and stability.
The statement furthermore says that the three Ministers of Defence agreed to intensify communications, consultations, exchange of information, evaluations and coordination of joint efforts to meet the scale of military and security challenges and threats regionally as well as to satisfy the requirements of enhancing the security and interests of the three countries.
In a brief statement to the press, Petrides said that the three countries enjoy long-lasting and genuine relations which are enhanced not only in the areas of defence and security but also in other sectors such as energy and trade. He said that today they had the chance to review these ties and to talk about the recent developments in the eastern Med and the Mideast regions.
He also noted that all the goals and visions discussed at today’s meeting will be met until the next one in 2023 in Greece.
The next trilateral meeting will be held in Greece in 2023.