Saturday,22 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1315, (13 -19 October 2016)
Saturday,22 September, 2018
Issue 1315, (13 -19 October 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Olive trees plant ties

President Al-Sisi hosted a summit with the Cypriot president and Greek prime minister, reports Reem Leila

Al-Ahram Weekly

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi hosted the fourth trilateral summit between Cyprus, Greece and Egypt which focussed on regional energy. During the 11 October summit, the countries reached an initial agreement on a pipeline passing through the three neighbours. A final agreement is to be signed before the year’s end and for the ambitious project to come into effect in 2020.

The three leaders deplored the recent attacks on the cultural heritage of the Middle East and the organised looting and illicit trafficking of cultural items. In the same vein, the heads of state called for further steps to prohibit the illicit trade in cultural properties from the Middle East, and encouraged UNESCO's efforts to help put in place a ban and support the restoration of the properties.

The leaders affirmed their support for the candidature of Egypt’s Moushira Khattab to the post of UNESCO director general in elections scheduled for October next year, taking into account her distinguished profile and concrete achievements in the areas which fall within UNESCO’s mandate.

Earlier on Tuesday, Al-Sisi met Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, followed by a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Al-Sisi and Anastasiades discussed the Cypriot problem, with both leaders reaffirming their support for the ongoing negotiations for a solution that will reunify the island in accordance with international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

They also highlighted that the solution of the Cyprus problem must address the concerns and aspirations of the Cypriots themselves, without anachronistic and obsolete security arrangements, such as guarantees.

Alaa Youssef, Egypt’s presidential spokesman, said that among the issues discussed at the trilateral meeting were energy, regional developments and EU-Egypt relations. “Developments in the Cyprus problem, as well as cooperation among the three countries in a number of areas, including agriculture, the environment, air and sea transport and commerce, were also discussed,” Youssef said.

In the framework of the meetings, two joint declarations of intention were signed on environmental protection, sea transport and recreation cruises.

In a symbolic gesture highlighting the importance of regional cooperation, three olive trees were planted by the three leaders at Al-Ittihadiya Presidential Palace gardens. Al-Sisi hoped the three trees "would become three million trees".

On Wednesday morning, Anastasiades was due to meet his Egyptian counterpart, followed by the signing of an agreement on air transport.

After the closed door meetings, the three leaders told a press conference about the importance of boosting counterterrorism cooperation as well as dealing with pressing security issues including illegal migration and the situation in war-torn Syria and Libya.

The Palestinian issue and the importance of solving it were among the main points that Tsipras underlined during the press conference.

Al-Sisi expressed his “grave” concern over the escalation of violence and the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria, especially in Aleppo. He called on all parties in Syria to fulfill their commitments to restore the cessation of hostilities and to allow full access of humanitarian assistance to all besieged and hard-to-reach areas.

On Libya, the president expressed his support for efforts undertaken by the UN’s special representative Martin Kobler to facilitate a Libyan-led political solution and underlined the importance of implementing the Libyan political agreement of Skhirat. "We resolve differences and build confidence between the Libyan parties, encouraging them to work constructively towards the full implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) of Skhirat," Al-Sisi said.

Anastasiades and Tsipras reaffirmed their support for the preservation of the legitimate Libyan state institutions as well as the implementation of a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy.

The leaders expressed their strong support for the legitimate government of Yemen and President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and for the preservation of its unity and territorial integrity.

On the Palestinian issue, they called for a just and comprehensive peace settlement based on relevant UN resolutions, establishing a sovereign Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and living in peace with all its neighbours. They expressed their concern about the current situation on the ground.

At the press conference Tsipras said the current plight of thousands of illegal migrants putting their lives in jeopardy should be addressed regionally and comprehensively. "We agreed to reduce the incentives for illegal migration in collaboration with the EU commission through a balanced and holistic approach," said Tsipras.

“We will focus on investing in development and poverty eradication, especially by boosting socio-economic growth and creating opportunities, and also by investigating, disrupting and prosecuting smuggler networks and building stronger partnerships between northern and southern Mediterranean countries," Tsipras said. “There will be immediate action to prevent further loss of lives of illegal migrants and a review of the possibilities of the safe and legal resettlement of people.”

In previous meetings the three countries discussed in detail the establishment of maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean.

The first trilateral summit was held in Cairo in November 2014, the second in Nicosia in April 2015 and the third in Athens in December 2015.

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