The participation of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the 6th Trilateral Cyprus-Greece-Israel Summit in Jerusalem alongside the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades “is a strong sign of support for the trilateral framework and for the increased cooperation between our countries,” the Ambassador of Israel to Cyprus, Sammy Revel has said.
In an interview with CNA ahead of the summit, the ambassador also said that relations between Israel and Cyprus and the trilateral cooperation with Greece “go beyond the particular positions of political parties,” adding that his country looks forward to “further institutionalizing this cooperation.”
Revel reiterated his country’s support towards Nicosia’s sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), when asked about Ankara’s stated intention to begin drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Energy security and regional developments are expected to be on the agenda of the trilateral summit that takes place on Wednesday.
“Israel fully supports the future strengthening of the trilateral framework” said the ambassador of Israel, adding that a clear objective is to further enhance the joint actions of government ministries, organizations, research institutions and the private sector.
He pointed to the last trilateral summit, held in the Israeli city of Beer Sheva in December 2018 saying that it provided “excellent examples,” such as a practical training for entrepreneurs and start-ups, a very successful business forum, cyber-security cooperation.
“We are looking forward to further institutionalizing this cooperation” Revel said when asked about a Permanent Secretariat expected to open in Nicosia later this year in order to coordinate trilateral cooperation.
With elections looming in Israel, the ambassador was also asked whether he sees any changes in his country’s policy in the future, vis-a-vis the trilateral scheme or if he rather expects continuity.
“The relations between Israel and Cyprus as well as the trilateral cooperation with Greece go beyond the particular positions of political parties,” he said.
“Our ties are based on a deep friendship and mutual respect, on common values and a shared vision for the future” he said, before referring to a “future of stability, security and prosperity.”
He added that “together with other like-minded countries, we must face considerable challenges, in particular the growing threats of terrorism and extremism” and noted that common efforts are vital to answer future needs. “As close neighbors, we will continue to solidify our partnership,” he said.
In the trilateral summit in Beer Sheva, the three sides reached an agreement on the text of the Intergovernmental Agreement that would facilitate the promotion and implementation of the EastMed pipeline project.
Asked about the project’s future, the ambassador said that “EastMed presents an important vision and a strategic option” and may contribute to energy security and diversification of supply to Europe. He also underlined the fact that US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, was present in that summit expressing US support for the project.
“We continue to explore also other major energy projects” the Israeli ambassador said, noting that a very important field of cooperation is the development of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. This can save considerable expenses and reduce emissions to protect the environment, he added.
Asked about Israel’s message to Ankara concerning activities in Cyprus’s EEZ, Revel said that in previous summits, all three countries opposed any action in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, which could cause a concern to stability, violate international law or contradict good neighborly relations.
“As we have stated in the past, Israel clearly respects the rights of the Republic of Cyprus in exercising its sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone,” he said, reminding the EEZ delimitation agreement, that Israel and Cyprus reached back in 2010.