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12-11-2020 18:07

Opening statement by the Minister of Defence, Mr Charalambos Petrides, at the trilateral meeting of Defence Ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Israel

It is a great pleasure to host today in Nicosia the 3rd meeting of Defence Ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Israel.

Our meeting takes place within the framework of the trilateral cooperation mechanism that has been developed over the past years, with the aim to build bridges of trust between our countries.

I would like to warmly thank the Minister of National Defence of Greece, Mr Nikos Panagiotopoulos, as well as the Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of the State of Israel, Mr Benjamin Gantz, for their presence here.

Today's meeting expresses the common will of our countries to continue their cooperation in the fields of Security and Defence with the aim of promoting peace, stability and security in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Our goal is to promote the mutual benefit of good neighbourly relations, when they are based upon respect for international law, and to achieve the necessary security conditions for the synergies that emerge from the energy prospects in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Today we have made decisions on ways to strengthen our cooperation, such as the implementation of joint training and exercises, which have been included in the Trilateral Cooperation Programme for 2021, and the establishment of committees at the level of Ministries of Defence to evaluate and promote new areas of cooperation.

At the same time, we discussed the developments in our region. Both Mr Panagiotopoulos and I informed our Israeli counterpart on the provocative actions by Turkey in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus, in the Mediterranean maritime zones and the Aegean, where Ankara continues illegal drillings and seismic surveys.

Moreover, I informed my counterparts on the illegal Turkish actions as concerns the fenced – off city of Varosha, which violate the UN Security Council resolutions; actions that undermine the Secretary -General's efforts to resume negotiations that aim to reunify Cyprus on the basis of the agreed framework.

Mr Gantz briefed us on the security situation in Israel and stressed the importance that Israel attaches to bilateral and multilateral cooperation with neighbouring countries.

We also discussed issues related to energy security such as the East Med pipeline, which is another important project for Cyprus and has the support of the EU. As you are aware, the Ministries of Defence of the three countries are responsible for the security of this project.

The recent signing of the EastMed Gas Forum charter was also discussed. A modern, open and inclusive platform for regional cooperation has been established. We welcome every country of the region that respects International Law to join the Forum.

Concluding, I express the gratitude of the Republic of Cyprus to the Governments of the Hellenic Republic and the State of Israel, for their support as concerns the efforts for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.

The Trilateral cooperation will move forward and expand even further because it is based on solid foundations: honesty, trust, a common understanding for the present, as well as a joint perspective for the future of the Eastern Mediterranean. In this framework, we will examine the possible collaboration in 3+1 format with partner countries such as the United States of America.

* For the statement by the Greek Defence Minister click here.

* For the statement by the Israeli Defence Minister click here.

* For the Cyprus-Greece-Israel joint declaration click here.