CAIRO – With Turkey pressing for oil and gas reserves not far from coasts, Greece, Cyprus and Egypt have agreed to work with each other on energy cooperation.
“This was a meeting that all three of us owed to history,” said Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras after meeting with Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Samaras stressed Egypt’s leading role in the Arab world and said that he and Anastasiades would act as “ambassadors for Egypt with the European Union.”
The main focus of the meeting was the signing of the Cairo Declaration, which commits the three countries to increasing efforts to mark out their maritime zones as they believe the discovery of hydrocarbons could help cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“To this direction, we place emphasis on the ecumenical character of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea and we have decided to speed up the negotiations for the delimitation of maritime zones, where this has not been defined yet,” the declaration states.
The agreement also calls on Turkey to respect Cyprus’s right to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) after a Turkish research vessel and warship entered the area last month.
“We have stressed the importance of the respect of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus in its EEZ and we urged Turkey to terminate all seismic exploration within the maritime zones of Cyprus and to avoid similar activities in the future,” the declaration says, with the three leaders adding calls for a reunification deal on the island, Kathimerini reported.
Anastasiades stressed that the Cairo Declaration is not aimed against any country and called on all the states in the region to share in a “common vision” based around the use of hydrocarbons.
He broke off talks with Turkish-Cypriots on hopes to reunify the island divided since an unlawful Turkish invasion in 1974 and said any proceeds from energy wouldn’t be shared with them unless there is a peace deal first, angering Ankara.
Turkey is unhappy about the agreement and has already made its complaints known to Athens, Cairo and Washington. US Vice President Joe Biden is due to travel to Ankara on November 21.
A week later, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos is due to meet Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara.