Cyprus, Greece and Israel have announced they will sign an agreement next week designed to combat marine pollution.
Cypriot Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment Nicos Kouyialis described the deal as “significant” for the respective countries and the region.
The agreement, as well as the concomitant action plan, will be signed by the environment ministers of the three countries on January 8, in the presence of the heads of state or government who will be in Nicosia to attend a trilateral summit between Cyprus, Greece and Israel.
Kouyialis told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that the primary objective of the deal is to protect the Mediterranean Sea, as the economies of all three countries depend, to a small or large degree, on a healthy marine environment.
“Our economy’s main pillar is tourism, therefore it is our obligation to protect the region’s marine environment,” he told CNA, adding that a pollution incident would not affect just one single country but a string of countries in the Mediterranean basin. “This is why all three countries decided together to join forces,” he said.
Kouyialis described the agreement as being particularly important for Cyprus, which does not have the same means at its disposal as the other two signatories. Given that sea traffic has grown in recent years and that the region has become the focus of research activity for hydrocarbons, Kouyialis said the three countries must be in a state of readiness for pollution incidents. “It’s imperative for us to be prepared,” he said.