Friday,14 December, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1413, (11 - 17 October 2018)
Friday,14 December, 2018
Issue 1413, (11 - 17 October 2018)

Ahram Weekly

East Mediterranean opportunities

The tripartite summit between Egypt, Greece and Cyprus will solidify cooperation between the three countries. Ghada Raafat and Reem Leila report

 

  Archival photo of Al-Sisi, Anastasiades and Tsipras during their meeting in the Cypriot capital last year   (photo: AP)
Archival photo of Al-Sisi, Anastasiades and Tsipras during their meeting in the Cypriot capital last year (photo: AP)
Al-Ahram Weekly

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi flew to Greece on 10 October for a trilateral summit with his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Alexi Tsipras. The tripartite meeting is the sixth to be held since 2014.

Presidential Spokesman Bassam Radi said the summit will reinforce cooperative frameworks between the three countries and strengthen relations. The three leaders and their accompanying delegations will discuss ways of implementing joint projects - in the fields of agriculture, fishery, tourism, energy and maritime transport - already agreed in earlier summits, as well as mechanisms to enhance cooperation in the battle against terrorism.

Political analyst Hassan Abu Taleb says the discussions between Egypt, Greece and Cyprus will extend to include the coordination necessary to guarantee Mediterranean security and combat illegal migration, and that the three leaders are likely to exchange views on the Syrian and Libyan crises and developments in the Palestinian cause.

It will be necessary, says Abu Taleb, for the three leaders to discuss ways to remove any bureaucratic impediments to the implementation of projects already agreed.  “It is essential for Egypt to discuss this,” he argues, “not least when it comes to energy. The huge gas reserves recently discovered in Egyptian and Cypriot territorial waters will contribute greatly to meeting Europe’s future energy needs.”

Energy is likely to take up the lion’s share of the talks. A gas pipeline linking the Aphrodite field with liquefaction plants in Damietta and Edku has already been tentatively agreed, with the processed natural gas then exported to Europe.

“This will create jobs, attract foreign investments and contribute to making Egypt a regional energy hub. We have the facilities and infrastructure necessary to receive gas produced in the region in the near future and then export it,” Oil Ministry Spokesman Hamdi Abdel-Aziz told Al-Ahram Weekly.

There is also the possibility of integrating electricity grids. Parliamentary Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said on 19 September that a contract linking the grids of Egypt, Cyprus and Greece will be signed soon.  Once implemented, it will become the second line linking Africa and Europe, after the Morocco-Spain line which runs through the Strait of Gibraltar.

Cooperation in the field of energy will help Europe diversify its supplies and make it less reliant on Russia.

World Bank energy expert Hafez Al-Salmawi says that strategic cooperation between Egypt, Cyprus and Greece, both members in the European Union, will not only enhance Egypt’s standing with other European countries, it could also facilitate further cooperation with north African states.

Egyptian officials and diplomats will be aware of the political implications of any agreements reached, says Al-Salmawi.

Turkey will have concerns over agreements with Egypt, and Ankara will press its claims for a share of the Cypriot gas fields. Al-Salmawi says Cairo must be clear that it will cooperate only with the legitimate and recognised government of Cyprus. The same applies to Russia: Cairo needs to clarify that the purpose of connecting with Europe is not to harm Russia’s interests but to develop Egypt’s economy.

The sixth summit was preceded by a preparatory meeting in September between the three countries’ foreign ministers.

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