Despite catching most observers off guard, the decision to include India in trilateral meetings between Cyprus, Greece and Israel has long been in the pipeline, the foreign ministry confirmed on Tuesday.
The idea of holding a “three plus one” meeting was not alien to observers, but the “plus one” was generally understood to be the United States.
However, on Monday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned the possibility of inviting India to the next tripartite meeting.
“This was certainly not out of the blue. This has been discussed for a while, and the idea is to bring common partners with us,” foreign ministry spokesman Theodoros Gotsis told the Cyprus Mail.
“India is a power in Asia. These days, it has a heightened interest in the Middle East and in Europe… its aim is to increase its influence in these regions, and it will of course want to build relationships with Europe through its eastern states,” he said.
He added that “India has already been building its bilateral relations with Israel, and our aim is also to strengthen our relationship with the country.
“For a country to join our tripartite meetings, all three countries must have bilateral interests and strong bilateral relations with the country. This applies to India, hence our positive stance on its potential inclusion,” he said.
Government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said an invitation could even be extended when the three next meet, in Israel in 2024.
“There’s something else that could develop, and we discussed it at great length,” Netanyahu said on Monday.
“There is now the possibility that we might have the expansion of the Abraham Accords to normalisation with Saudi Arabia. All three countries view that as a great possibility, but they also see that this could lead to a connection between India, the Arabian peninsula, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Europe. There is a natural… there is a geographic connection but it could be also something that would lead to many rewards for our peoples and our countries.”
Cyprus President Nikos Christoulides said they reaffirmed “our strong commitment to the 3+1 format with the United States and agreed on the value of intensifying 3+1 cooperation, with concrete deliverables also with other countries and we talked specifically about India.”
The Cyprus Mail also understands that there is an extent of ‘the enemy of the enemy is my friend’ in the adoption of closer ties with India.
Relations between Turkey and Pakistan, and by association the north of Cyprus, have been historically and are to this day strong.
Pakistan even briefly recognised the north’s independence back in 1983, before succumbing to international pressure and withdrawing its recognition.
In modern times, Pakistan and Turkey often find themselves aligned on matters of defence, with Turkey recently constructing four warships for Pakistan.
In addition, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered the country’s full support to Pakistan over the controversial disputed territory of Kashmir back in 2020.