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04-06-2024 17:24

Press remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Constantinos Kombos, following his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mr Sameh Shoukry Cairo, 4 June 2024

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Dear Minister,

Dear Sameh,

It is a great pleasure to be in Cairo today. I would like to thank you for the wonderful hospitality and for the fruitful and productive discussions.

Today’s meeting reaffirms the strength and solidarity that define the relationship between Cyprus and Egypt.

A relationship built on historic ties, trust and a shared vision about our political steps forward and our mutual economic prosperity.

And that common understanding and vision extend to our region, especially at this difficult, turbulent times. 

Therefore, our deliberations took place in the preceding context, reasserting our strategic partnership, founded on honesty, common interests and transparency.

As the Minister said, it is our joint task to further advance and deepen our bilateral relationship in tangible ways.

We are particularly satisfied with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Mobility of Workers from Egypt, which represents a significant step forward in our collaboration.

This has been concluded in just four months and represents a clear example of our political will to make it happen. It is mutually beneficial for our economies and our people, and the blueprint for sectoral economic progress.

Dear friends,

Our deliberations focused on five key topics:

Firstly, we reaffirmed our shared commitment to the principles of international law, the rules-based international order, and to the instrumental role of regional cooperation.

I briefed His Excellency on the latest developments regarding the Cyprus Problem, emphasising our readiness to support the United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s Personal Envoy.

Egypt’s long-standing, principled and vocal stance in all international fora is deeply valued, and I have conveyed my appreciation to Minister Shoukry for Egypt’s invaluable support.

Secondly, we explored various aspects of our bilateral agenda, with a particular focus on energy cooperation. The transportation of natural gas from the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus to Egypt, for liquefaction, remains the primary development option for involved companies.

Politically, our partnership with Egypt in the energy sector is our compass.

We recognise Egypt’s unique role in the energy sector both regionally and beyond. Our ongoing cooperation, within the framework of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), is a crucial element of our energy relationship.

Thirdly, as regards the bilateral relationship, Cyprus is enthusiastic about hosting the next Government-to-Government (G2G) meeting with Egypt. It will further solidify our collaborative efforts.

Additionally, we eagerly look forward to the next high-level trilateral summit with Greece, which will undoubtedly contribute to the strengthening of our regional partnerships and collective strategic interests.

Fourthly, we expressed our shared and profound concern over the ongoing dangerous situation in our region.

On this, Cyprus’ position can be summarised as follows:

  1. The expansion of military operations in Rafah, with potentially irreversible and catastrophic consequences, needs to stop.
  2. Cyprus strongly deplores the recent air strikes causing devastation and the deaths of so many innocent civilians, including children.
  3. The need for an immediate ceasefire and the release of hostages is imperative. Egypt has been instrumental in these and the international community must be thankful for Egypt’s leadership.
  4. I also expressed grave concern about the dire the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Increasing and facilitating the flow of humanitarian aid is essential.

The Rafah crossing, from Egypt, is the lifeline for the people of Gaza. It cannot, and will not, be substituted.

To this end, as we have always underscored, the Cyprus maritime corridor, is an additive, complementary route via sea.

The devastating humanitarian situation in Gaza is such that scaling up the flow of humanitarian aid is essential.

Every contribution matters and we have a duty to continue the efforts. Cyprus is contributing in the way it can, always highlighting the primacy of land crossings.

  1. The risk for a spillover of the conflict remains. The situation in the Red Sea, with serious economic and trade impacts, is another example. Equally, the situation in the West Bank, Lebanon and elsewhere.
  2. We welcome the US Plan and express gratitude for Egypt’s tireless efforts at all fronts.

You have shown strong leadership and reaffirmed your pivotal role as a pillar of regional stability.   

  1. Finally, the political horizon is the only safeguard for the future and for the stability of our region.

A two-state solution, in line with UN Security Council Resolutions, is not just a talking point.

It is the only viable political option. It is reminded that Cyprus has long recognised the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. We recognised the State of Palestine in 1988. In difficult times, Cyprus has taken the principled position.

Fifthly, we considered on how our strategic partnership is projected and materialises at the international stage.

Cyprus has actively promoted the EU-Egypt Strategic and Comprehensive Partnership.

President Christodoulides joined the President of the European Commission, in March, when the Partnership was launched.

This partnership underscored Egypt's unique and vital geostrategic role as the centre of gravity for the security, moderation, and peace in the region of the Mediterranean, the Near East and Africa. The European Union (EU) must stand with Egypt and needs to support, in all ways, what Egypt has been doing for Europe’s security and stability.

In conclusion, I extend my heartfelt thanks to you, dear Sameh, for our productive exchange today and once again express my gratitude for your warm welcome.

Thank you.