After trilateral summit, leaders agree to defend against ‘malign influences’ in region

After trilateral summit, leaders agree to defend against ‘malign influences’ in region

In a joint statement in Jerusalem on Wednesday, the leaders of Greece, Israel and Cyprus and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, agreed to further entrench cooperation between all four countries, boosting energy and security cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

In their statement, Tsipras, Benjamin Netanyahu, Nicos Anastasiades and Pompeo confirmed their commitment to energy and security cooperation and pledged to “defend against external malign influences” in the Eastern Mediterranean and the broader Middle East. 

The statement also said that Pompeo underlined US support for the trilateral mechanism set up by Greece, Israel and Cyprus. 

“They welcomed the recent natural gas finds in the Eastern Mediterranean and its potential to contribute to energy security and diversification,” the statement concluded. 

“Our basic idea is very significant – to create a secure network to transfer energy resources from the region of the Eastern Mediterranean, from Israel, Cyprus and Greece, to Europe,” said Tsipras in brief remarks at the beginning of the summit referring to the planned construction of the EastMed pipeline to transfer gas from Israel and Cyprus to Greece and on to Italy. 

Tsipras said its construction will boost dialogue over security in a volatile region and strengthen the economies of the three countries.

An agreement between the three countries on the pipeline was concluded last December at the fifth trilateral summit in Beersheba in Israel. 

However, developments on the pipeline are not likely until after the European elections in May as Italy’s signature will be required. Rome has reportedly asked to do this after the elections. 

Tsipras also stressed that all three countries have each been strengthened in their own right in recent years. 

“Our trilateral cooperation has become strategic, especially in the field of energy and security,” he said, and echoed the sentiments of Netanyahu and Anastasiades that Pompeo’s presence underlines US support for the cooperation as it “strengthens efforts and dialogue on energy, security and the economy, as well as on the challenges ahead.” 

Netanyahu, who described the trilateral cooperation as of “one of the best regional partnerships worldwide,” said that Pompeo’s participation had given the summit added value, while Anastasiades said in a tweet that it shows Greece, Cyprus and Israel are reliable US partners.

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