Greece, Israel, Cyprus and the UAE said on Friday they would seek to deepen their cooperation in fields ranging from energy to fighting COVID, saying budding ties could change the face of a region more synonymous with conflict.
What unites the four countries meeting on Cyprus is “a common commitment to basic principles and values,” Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias said after the meeting of foreign ministers in Paphos.
These principles include “promoting good neighborly relations and the peaceful resolution of disputes on the basis of principles of international law, such as the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea,” he said in a statement addressed to his three counterparts.
He noted that “Greece strives to build good neighborly relations with all the countries in the region, without exception.” The partnership of the four is very important for regional stability, he added.
Attending the meeting were Cyprus FM Nikos Christodoulides, Israeli FM Gabi Ashkenazi, UAE’s FM Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (via teleconference) and his representative Anwar Gargash, UAE President’s Diplomatic Advisor and former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
At the meeting, the four foreign ministers discussed extending cooperation in several areas, starting from the energy sector.
“In this context, we underlined the importance of the EastMed Gas Pipeline and renewable energy sources,” he noted, and they also discussed how to enhance exchanges on issues such as digital innovation, tourism, climate, defence, the coronavirus pandemic, and preparing for the post-pandemic world.
Dendias stressed that, as he has repeatedly noted, “our cooperation schemes are open to all. Provided that they share our respect for the values and the principles I just highlighted.”
Greece, Cyprus, Israel, UAE: Libya, Syria and Yemen in the agenda
Among other issues the four FMs exchanged views on were areas of common concern, such as developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya, Syria and Yemen.
The Greek FM said he briefed his colleagues about his recent visits to Libya, where he said that a fundamental precondition to the elections scheduled there for December is the withdrawal of all foreign forces on the ground in Libya.
This, he said, addressing his colleagues, is “a position all of us fully share and support.” While in Libya, he added, “It was also pointed out that any arrangements that are contrary to basic principles of International Law are not valid.”
“The evolving web of regional cooperation is creating a new narrative, one that is cracking the glass ceiling of the prevailing (one) of our neighborhood as a region of turmoil, conflict and crisis,” said Cypriot Foreign Minister and host Nikos Christodoulides.
The UAE and fellow Gulf state Bahrain in September became the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to sign agreements to establish formal ties with Israel, forged largely through shared fears of Iran.