Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 30 November 2020

Egypt, Greece and Cyprus denounce Turkey at Nicosia summit

The three nations held a summit in Nicosia on Wednesday

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi shares an elbow bump with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis as they meet at the presidential palace in Nicosia, Cyprus. EPA
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi shares an elbow bump with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis as they meet at the presidential palace in Nicosia, Cyprus. EPA

The leaders of Egypt, Greece and Cyprus on Wednesday denounced Turkey’s regional policies, singling out its military presence in Syria and Libya and illegal gas exploration in contested Mediterranean waters.

“Turkey’s leadership has fantasies of imperial behaviour with aggressive policies from Syria to Libya, Somalia to Cyprus, and from the Aegean [Sea] to the Caucasus,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told a news conference after the tripartite summit in Nicosia, capital of Cyprus.

Beside Mr Mitsotakis, the summit was attended by Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El Sisi and his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades. It was the eighth meeting by leaders of the three countries since 2014.

The Greek Prime Minister also urged the European Union to reconsider its customs union agreement with Turkey in response to its “aggressive” policies in the east Mediterranean. He argued that it was unacceptable for Turkey to be reaping the benefits of the agreement while at the same time threatening the EU’s eastern border.

In a joint communique issued at the end of the summit, the three leaders stated their concern over what they termed the escalation within maritime zones in the east Mediterranean and the growing “militarisation” of the region, thinly veiled references to Turkish policies.

They also called for differences over maritime Exclusive Economic Zones and continental shelves be settled through dialogue guided by international law.

The three countries, all at sharp odds with Turkey, have been bound by close ties and co-operation since 2014. These have been cemented by the discovery of large natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean which, in co-operation with several other nations, they hope to use to turn the area into a global energy hub.

Turkey has been trying to muscle in on the project, in part to protect the rights of the Turkish minority in the Greek-majority Mediterranean island of Cyprus, of which Ankara occupies the northern third.

Updated: October 21, 2020 08:11 PM

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